Crowds coming after holiday

Organization's ski summit to bring 2,000 to Steamboat

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— Steamboat Springs likely will see a big boost in tourist visits after, not during, this Presidents Day holiday weekend.

The weekly lodging barometer published by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association predicts about 14,200 out-of-town visitors will stay in Steamboat tonight. While that's the same number of visitors who stayed overnight on the corresponding Saturday in 2006, 14,200 guests also are projected for the weekend of Feb. 24. That number is about 1,500 guests more than the corresponding weekend a year ago.

Scott Campbell, director of sales for Steamboat Resorts, said the surge next weekend is due to an event hosted by the National Brotherhood of Skiers, which will bring more than 2,000 visitors to Steamboat for a week of ski-related festivities. The NBS is an organization of more than 10,000 members across the nation and the United Kingdom that, according to its mission statement, "aims to identify, develop and support athletes of color who will win Olympic and international winter sports competitions : and increase participation in winter sports."

The NBS hosts an event at a different ski resort every winter. The group last brought its bi-annual summit to Steamboat in 1995.

"We are thrilled to welcome back the National Brotherhood of Skiers for the 2007 summit," Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said last April when this year's location was announced. "The NBS has been and remains among the preeminent groups in the resort industry."

The event begins Feb. 24 and will include ski school clinics, on-mountain racing and numerous day and evening activities.

Campbell said the timing of the NBS summit could not be better.

"We really tried to steer this group to this time," Campbell said, pointing out that the summit will take place after the busy Presidents Day weekend and before college vacations in March. "With nothing else going on, it's not going to be so crowded on the slopes - this is a really nice piece of business, which is great for our town."

Campbell said this weekend also will be busy for local restaurants, shops and lodging facilities.

"Presidents (Day weekend) is always a very high-demand period, and we've been forecasting this to be one of our better holiday weekends because Mardi Gras is at the tail end of it, so we get a lot of business from the South," Campbell said. "There's a lot going on over the next two weeks."

Statistics from Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden show that 1,270 passengers arrived Friday on full-capacity flights.

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