The Canton ski area has seen a marked increase in season-pass sales, ski lessons and business in general this winter.

A struggling economy is keeping more people close to home this ski season, and the Blue Hills Ski Area is reaping the benefits.

The resort has seen a marked increase in sales of season passes, ski lessons and business in general this season.

Jennifer Heinen, one of the ski area’s managers, said the ski area attributes at least part of that increase to the economy.

“People are staying close to home and they’re coming here for family outings,” Heinen said.

A snowy winter and improvements to the ski area have also contributed to the increase, she said.

“It’s an opportunity to get out there and enjoy the winter and have that ski experience without going anywhere,” she said.

John Neil, 20, of Scituate enjoys snowboarding and often goes to ski areas in Western Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On Saturday, he was at Blue Hills teaching his sister to snowboard.

“We can’t be taking a trip up north, really,” he said.

The costs of lift tickets, accommodations and gas make traveling to one of the bigger resorts just too expensive, Neil said.

For some, going to Blue Hills is more about convenience than money.

Lisa Simon of Arlington, who was skiing with her family, said Blue Hills is the optimal place for a day trip.

“We usually ski up in New Hampshire, but Blue Hills is close to town,” Simon said. “On the spur of the moment you can’t just drive to New Hampshire.”

Lori Catrambone of Randolph said, “It’s nice up here. You think you should be going to Wachussett Mountain or something when it’s right here in your back yard.”

Lee Cook of Brookline brought her daughters to Blue Hills for the first time this past weekend.

“We’re definitely staying at home this year,” she said. “We’re trying to give them lessons in as affordable a way as possible.”

Heinen said Blue Hills officials are aware that people are struggling this year and are offering some new promotional deals. The ski area is offering free lessons to first-time skiers on weekends, and Heinen said a discount season pass for students has been very popular.

Adva Saldinger may be reached at asaldinger@ledger.com.