On June 24, Premier John Horgan announced B.C.’s transition into Phase 3 of our province’s Restart Plan, and that provincial health authorities had officially lifted their advisory against non-essential personal travel.
This was the announcement we had all been waiting for, and was great news for Whistler, and for the tourism sector across B.C. After many months of sheltering in place, British Columbians have finally been given the greenlight by government officials to get out and explore our beautiful province.
As we all know, tourism is Whistler’s lifeblood, so we are very excited to be welcoming visitors back to our mountain community! In the same breath, we also know that it is a huge responsibility, and that we need to manage the return to tourism carefully, so as not to expose our employees, visitors or residents to health risks, or our destination to reputation risk.
Our community has been working closely over the past months to ensure Whistler’s return to tourism is managed thoughtfully and responsibly, with enhanced safety protocols in place, along with a new business directory and communications tools to provide accurate and transparent information on Whistler’s new tourism experience. We all have a key role to play in our community’s recovery, and we are ready to take that next step.
Throughout the pandemic, Tourism Whistler has been engaging with our business community and residents to gauge local sentiments on the return of tourism and we have conducted visitor surveys to gauge travel intentions and destination expectations.
The feedback from all parties has been aligned:
• Visitors want to know what to expect when they arrive; they want to know that there will be appropriate COVID-19 protocols in place to protect them; and they want to be welcomed when they are here;
• Local residents want the assurance that visitor volumes will be proactively managed, and that visitors will exude responsible behaviours when here to keep the community safe;
• Resort businesses want a measured and manageable return to “new normal” tourism levels.
While restrictions against international travel and gatherings of more than 50 people will remain in place for the foreseeable future, we know there is considerable pent-up demand from British Columbians for regional leisure travel, and that is where Tourism Whistler will be focusing our efforts in the short term—encouraging extended weekend stays, week-long vacations, and midweek getaways in an effort to balance visitation.
Building upon our research, Tourism Whistler has now launched our new Summer Marketing Campaign, Adventure Differently, into British Columbia. The campaign redeﬁnes what it means to vacation in a COVID-19 world, and provides guests with comfort and confidence in returning to Whistler, while encouraging them to do so mindfully and respectfully, with a focus on responsible behaviours.
With this in mind, Tourism Whistler has developed four key messaging pillars, which provide guidelines for the changes we are asking of all of us who spend time in the resort this summer:
• Let’s interact considerately
• Let’s play simply
• Let’s explore responsibly
• Let’s enjoy patiently
You can learn more about these four pillars, and our messaging to guests, at whistler.com/summer.
We have also launched a new Whistler Doors Open Directory on whistler.com detailing what businesses are open, what experiences are available, and what new COVID-19 safety protocols are in place across the resort. This is an important resource for locals and visitors alike, and will be a valuable tool for helping to manage visitor expectations and the in-resort experience this summer.
This is going to be a very unique summer in Whistler as we conduct business with new capacities and new protocols, but we are delighted that the resort is again open to invite visitors back in a responsible and welcoming way.
Barrett Fisher // President & CEO, Tourism Whistler