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February 14. 2013 8:16PM

Influx of ski tourists comes with holiday weekend

CONCORD - New Hampshire tourism officials expect $115 million to be spent in the state over the next two weeks, as school vacation weeks here and in Massachusetts will have skiers heading for the Granite State's snow-covered mountains.

According to a report by the Institute for New Hampshire Studies, Saturday kicks off a nine-day span where an estimated 750,000 out-of-state visitors will head to New Hampshire and spend $115 million. Many Massachusetts schools are off next week, while most New Hampshire public schools are out of session the following week.

The tradition of back-to-back February school vacations began decades ago and provides a boost to ski resorts throughout the state.

"We have snow in every corner of the state going into the long holiday weekend and the school vacation weeks that follow," said Lori Harnois, director of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism. "Not only will this be an opportunity for visitors to experience the wide range of winter activities wherever they are in the state, the snow is a boon for our businesses, too."

Harnois said most of the out-of-state visitors heading here this month will originate from New England and New York, with a small percentage hailing from Canada and Europe.

Karl Stone, marketing director for SkiNH.com, said the dual-state February break weeks - teamed with the Christmas vacation week and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday - make up a three-week gold rush that accounts for 30 percent of a ski resort's business during the winter.

"This week is one that's vital to the ski industry," he said. "There's a lot of extra staff on hand and any added resources to make the experience smooth for guests."

Ski NH is offering a lift ticket package for the February vacation weeks. February 4-Packs are available until the end of the month and offer a savings of $10-$26 off weekend/vacation lift tickets. The fully-transferable lift tickets are valid for the remainder of the 2012-13 ski season. More information is available at www.SkiNH.com.

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