Despite marketing efforts Australians likely to stay away January 

Visitation from Down Under up five per cent in December

Though there were special in-resort deals just for them, it seems Australians have been slow to take up Tourism Whistler's January enticements.

"We did have quite an extensive campaign to combat (Olympic) aversion," said Karen Goodwin, director of sales at Tourism Whistler. "Lots of education of the tour operators, breaking down that aversion about the Olympics.

"We made January special for Australians in that we had special in-resort deals."

And while Australian visitation was up five per cent in December compared to 2008, early indications are not looking as promising for January.

"We're hopeful that that continues but we feel it won't be quite as positive once we get to the end of January," explained Goodwin.

But while the Olympic aversion message may have been heard loud and clear in the Australian marketplace, the fact remains that these are challenging economic times.

Goodwin said that is the key to the slow uptake, rather than the Olympic factor.

Australians, more so than other key segments, do not seem to be as concerned about the Olympic effect.

"We found that there's less aversion from Australians because of having hosted the Sydney Games," said Goodwin of the 2000 Summer Olympics. "They understand what it's all about. It's actually a draw for some people."

This is the first year Tourism Whistler has focused on the Australian market during the January timeframe. Being that it's the Australian summer holidays, it is traditionally a busy time for them to travel.

Tourism Whistler plans to expand its January focus in the Australian market in the years to come, perhaps getting more businesses on board to welcome guests from Down Under with special discounts or offers.

"We're going to enhance it next year," said Goodwin. "It will be more visible next year. We just couldn't compete with the Olympics on it."

The lack of Australians visiting, however, won't stop the ones who make Whistler their home away from home from celebrating Australia Day in their customary style.

The national holiday takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Expect Australians to make their presence known in the village.

Also new from Tourism Whistler this year is Family Month in March. Like the efforts to promote Whistler to the Australian market, Family Month is designed to target families who may want to visit the resort with specials and value-added deals.

Both efforts are new this year as Tourism Whistler focuses on breaking down the myths around the Olympics. Both will continue in the years to come.



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