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Whistler Blackcomb revenues up thanks to increased regional visits

Destination visitors still below pre-Olympic levels

Whistler Blackcomb has issued its first quarterly report since its initial public offering last November, covering the last three months of 2010.

The report shows that total revenue reached $46.8 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2010, an increase of 10.2 per cent over the same quarter in 2009. The result was a healthy $5.9 million in profits, or $0.16 per share.

The increase was primarily driven by increased skier visits and increased ticket and pass prices over last season.

The report also said that Whistler Blackcomb is on track to host two million visits, and has sold a record-breaking number of seasons passes and Edge cards.

"We are pleased to report strong first quarter results with revenue growth in all resort segment categories," said Dave Brownlie, president and chief operating officer of the corporation.

"In addition, we have set a new record for Whistler Blackcomb with the highest ever number of season passes and frequency cards sold prior to December 31st.

"We attribute this success to our efforts in the local and regional markets with a strong pre-season campaign that resulted in a 28 per cent increase in local and regional skier visits.

"As expected we are seeing a recovery in skier visits after the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and we expect a return to our historical levels with overall skier visits on track to exceed two million.

The report also showed that destination skiers have not recovered to pre-Olympic levels.

"Our challenge will be to repeat the success we have achieved with our local and regional campaigns in the international markets to help drive destination skier visits," said Brownlie.

Sales of season passes and frequency cards reached 104,000 units and $34 million leading up to Dec. 31, representing increases of 23 per cent in units sold and 33 per cent more revenues over the previous year.

Whistler Blackcomb raised about $300 million in its IPO, purchasing its namesake ski resort from Intrawest ULC. Intrawest continues to hold a 24 per cent stake in the company.

Intrawest is controlled by U.S. private-equity fund Fortress Investment Group, which also acquired the ski hill when it bought the resort operator in a leveraged buyout in 2006.