A significant decrease in the number of visitors from Australia this month compared with last year threatens to send Aspen’s tourism economy down under.

Skier visits were already down 8 percent and lodge occupancies were down by double digits in Aspen and Snowmass Village heading into January. Domestic business was expected to pick up some of the slack for the lodging industry, but the loss of the Aussies was felt, according to operators of two major properties.

Joe Raczak, general manager of the North of Nell Condominiums, said Australians have been filling his property during January for several years. Their business was vital for weathering the recession.

Photo Credit: The ski group at the top of Longshot run at Snowmass in Aspen, Colorado. Matt Ryall / Flickr