Tourism Whistler benefits from Rendez-vous in Vancouver 

Trade show offers international networking

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - Rendez-vous Canada Shawna Lang, director of market development for TW said the conference was like 'speed-dating.'
  • File Photo
  • Rendez-vous Canada Shawna Lang, director of market development for TW said the conference was like 'speed-dating.'

Tourism Whistler representatives showed off the resort, and took part in the country's premier international tourism marketplace recently.

More than 1,800 members of the international tourist industry were in Vancouver to attend Rendez-vous Canada — the annual marketplace hosted by the Canadian Tourism Commission — and Tourism Whistler was on hand.

"It's like speed dating. Every 15 minutes a bell rings and off we go," said Shawna Lang, director of market development for TW, of the conference in late May.

"It's networking, but with a bit more structure to it, so you have these fixed appointments and you choose who you want to meet with."

And at Rendez-vous, the matchmaking possibilities are endless. Nearly every sector of the tourism industry is represented at the conference, from hotels and transportation to activities and marketing.

"This is one of our most important trade shows of the year, because it gets all the international buyers in one room," Lang said.

While TW has had long-standing partnerships with Australian and United Kingdom tourism, it's emerging markets such as the Asia Pacific region that may hold the most promise in the coming years.

According to the province, more than 200,000 travellers visited B.C. from China in 2013 — 25 per cent more than in 2012.

Whistler's appeal as a world-class ski resort is apparent, but it's not TW's only focus when meeting with the tourism industry.

Rendez-vous Canada allows TW to market Whistler as a year-round product, as well as showcase things like culture and the arts.

Having the conference so close to home proved beneficial, as many potential buyers were able to visit Whistler first hand.

But while marketing Whistler to international tourists may not be the hardest of sells, there remain some roadblocks. Things like visa requirements for foreigners and air access regulations from the U.S. have been somewhat of a hindrance, said Karen Goodwin, vice-president of market development and sales for TW.

"Those are all things that we continue to monitor feedback on, and then continue our lobbying efforts, either with our governments or with other bodies," Goodwin said.

TW will keep working to "keep the voice of tourism loud," Goodwin said.

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