Cautious optimism prevails for winter season 

Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb are both "cautiously optimistic" about the upcoming winter season.

"I think it’s going to be an increase compared to last season," said Tourism Whistler President Barrett Fisher at Tuesday’s Women of Whistler meeting.

She explained that the most recent 120-day forecast from Tourism Whistler shows that business on the books is just one per cent ahead over last season. But the tour operator business is still unknown and the overseas trends are pointing to an increased demand. In addition, group meetings business, which has had a challenging few years, could be promising in the 2004-05 season.

More importantly Tourism Whistler is aggressively promoting its brand message. One example of their marking efforts is in the Californian market, which was blitzed with a media campaign after the U.S. election.

"Are we out of the woods yet? Not at all. Not at all," she said. "(But) it’s a bit of a waiting game."

Doug Forseth, the senior vice-president of mountain operations with Whistler-Blackcomb, echoed Fisher’s comments at the same meeting. But with 40 per cent of the regional market that waits for the weather, Forseth is also hoping for snow.

"We have to be very hopeful that we have a good snow year," he said.

Like Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb is also focused on delivering good value to its customers. For example, over the last decade, the prices in Cancun have risen by almost 20 per cent while Whistler’s prices have increased more than 65 per cent.

"That’s the kind of reality that our customers are seeing out there," he said.

It’s realities like that, among many other internal and external factors, which have played a role in a declining visitor numbers of the past three seasons. Forseth said the combined resort occupancy of the winter season last year was at 52 per cent.

"You can’t make it on that folks," he said.

Forseth and Fisher presented the Women of Whistler with their plans to increase visits and keep Whistler as the number one resort in North America.

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