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LETTER: Whistler should consider affordability for visitors

Whistler Village - Whistler Blackcomb lifts - at night
"During a season in which annual skier visits could be at an unprecedented low due to travel restrictions beyond the resort’s control, would this not be the year for Whistler Blackcomb to make a great appeal to the Canadian market, an appeal to [incentivize] Canadians who are not restricted from domestic travel to choose Whistler Blackcomb?," asks longtime visitor Rob Reed.

On Nov. 28, 2020, Pique’s Alyssa Noel highlighted the many challenges Whistler businesses and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce can expect to face in the coming weeks and months ahead to keep the “doors open” until defeating the pandemic is achieved. 

As a former long-time resident and annual visitor, I have witnessed Whistler facing its share of global events that at a local level can have a great impact on travel to the resort. 

There’s little doubt that the current pandemic has had the greatest and most-prolonged negative impact to business in Whistler’s history.  

I first visited the resort nearly 30 years ago, at the time walking through Village Square reminded me of a great, outdoor mall with its sprawling anchor featured at the base of Whistler Mountain. Since, Whistler Blackcomb has cemented its status as a truly world-class destination. 

Annually my family will come to Whistler for one week in March. Due to the pandemic we have decided to delay the planning of this trip until perhaps February when we might know more about how the mountains are operating in this new environment. 

We were also curious to understand what one week in March will cost for five days skiing purchasing lift tickets for two adults and one teenager. After choosing our dates and the three lift ticket products in our shopping cart the total came to just under $2,200. Add airfare, transfers, accommodations, F&B, and it seems extraordinary that the domestic-destination market will be looking at Whistler Blackcomb given the current economic environment in Canada. 

During a season in which annual skier visits could be at an unprecedented low due to travel restrictions beyond the resort’s control, would this not be the year for Whistler Blackcomb to make a great appeal to the Canadian market, an appeal to [incentivize] Canadians who are not restricted from domestic travel to choose Whistler Blackcomb?

Likely the resort’s anchor tenant can get past the economic impact of the pandemic, but the small businesses must too survive, these business owners are local homeowners and taxpayers. 

Vaccines are on the way, hopefully one year from now the holiday season will feature a packed village, 35,000 daily skier visits and the vibe we all know. In the meantime, what can the local business leadership do to help those who can visit make the choice to do so in 2021, at a time when the resort needs support like never before?

Rob Reed // Ontario