A survey of global travellers by VISA Inc found that a quarter of those questioned would love to attend the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler if they could.
And of those potential Games visitors most said they would visit other parts of Canada as well, with Whistler being high on the list.
"...What you see in this figure of 25 per cent is an indication of both the appeal that the Olympics have (and) also the appeal that Canada has, and Whistler is definitely a part of that," said Paul Wilke, senior business leader for VISA.
"In the survey we asked people where would they most likely visit in addition to Vancouver and almost a third of those people said Whistler was part of that."
While it is clear that not all those surveyed will follow through on their Olympic wish it does reflect the strong appeal Canada has a destination, said Wilke.
"Canada is recognized as a great place to go," he said, adding that it is recognized as not just a place where there are interesting things to do but also as a destination with broad appeal for natural sights and wildlife.
"People recognize that Canada is unique in what it offers," said Wilke.
The online Visa Tourism Outlook: Canada survey questioned more than 5,500 experienced international travelers from 11 countries between Dec.11, 2008 and Jan. 8, 2009.
The report notes that in the year ahead the Games offer an opportunity "for tourism providers and government authorities to support marketing efforts to convert this interest and intended travel into actual visits in 2010."
International respondents reporting the strongest likelihood of attending the Vancouver Games originated from Brazil (57%), China (52%) and Mexico (34%).
It noted that on the first day of the 2008 Beijing Summer Games that US$10 million was spent by VISA shoppers visiting for the event.
The survey found that roughly half of respondents were aware of Canada as the Host Country of the 2010 Games.
Countries close to Beijing showed the highest awareness of Vancouver hosting the Games, with Japan (60%) leading the group. The countries with the lowest awareness were Australia (29%) and the United Kingdom (30%) - an interesting fact considering London is hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Tourism Whistler's director of marketing services, Jodi Westbury, said the report did offer some surprises, including the low level of awareness in the United Kingdom.
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