“I hate being frightened. But even more, I
hate being prevented by fear.”
– Sir Francis Chichester, Fall 1967
“May you live in interesting times!” As old as it is, as often as it’s been repeated, that classic Chinese curse has never been more appropriate than it is for Whistler at this point in its history. Why? Because ambient conditions — economic, climatic and social — are changing so fast right now that most people in the mountain tourism industry (even the self-appointed “experts”) really don’t have a clue about what the future will bring.
I know. Nobody likes to deal with the guy screaming “The sky is falling; the sky is falling.” It’s annoying, rarely true and totally beyond one’s ability to alter the future anyway. But in this case, it’s not the sky that’s falling; it’s the whole platform on which we’ve erected our current resort model.
Another wild Beaudry exaggeration? I don’t think so. Consider the following possible scenarios:
A three-dollar litre of gasoline? As outrageous as that sounds now, it may just be a matter of time. And what will that do to the destination market at Whistler?
“I’m very concerned for the future of Whistler,” says Ecosign’s Peter Alder. “While we produce all these fancy documents about diversity and sustainability, we’re forgetting to do anything about the real issues facing us.” He smiles sadly. “We’ll probably be fine until 2010. But what about after the Olympics? That’s the period that really concerns me…”
An economic meltdown in the U.S.? It’s all but upon us. And how will that play out in the way we do business in Whistler?
“Keep your powder dry,” warns tourism economist Jared Jones. “This is not the time to invest in huge capital projects. In fact, right now, I’d say small is beautiful. There’s a big switch happening at the moment; people are making financial decisions in a very different way than they were 10 years ago.” Which means? “If you’re looking to the recent past for inspiration, you’re going to get yourself in big trouble…”
Global warming and a rising snowline? Look no further than the Alps — it’s already arrived there. So how will that affect future international riders and skiers?
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