Following the money 

RMOW commissions consultants for detailed economic study of resort

click to enlarge ECONOMic drivers
  • ECONOMic drivers

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Urban Futures, a tourism study released this week., states that the share of U.S. visitors travelling to B.C. by vehicle fell from 71 per cent of all U.S. trips to the province in 1998 to 62 per cent in 2011.

Non-U.S. international entries to B.C. have declined by eight per cent since 2008.

Provincially, the downward trends in travel have been echoed in hotel occupancy, with B.C.'s occupancy rate shrinking from 61.9 per cent in 1998 to 59.6 per cent in 2011.

Urban Futures' director Ryan Berlin noted most figures did not represent as steady decline, with some years actually seeing small increases in visitor numbers, but overall the trend was for fewer people.

He said the study used provincial statistics, was macro level and did not break for regions or specific locations within B.C.

"We didn't look at data specific to Whistler or any other city of community, and certainly in terms of long-term declines it could be that this isn't the case for everybody," Berlin said.

The reason for the decline has much to do with value and cost, he added.

"There are a lot of things conspiring to make it much more expensive for Americans to come up here, one has been the strengthening of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar and so every aspect of the trip is more expensive," Berlin said.

"On top of that, in the U.S. in the last 10 to 12 years their gasoline prices have increased fourfold, whereas ours have doubled. Gas prices are one of those things that people irrationally respond to, or over respond to."

Added to that was the doubling of the U.S. unemployment rate following the 2008 recession.

Berlin said he expected visitor numbers to plateau and turn around as people adjust their spending priorities.

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With files by Cathryn Atkinson

Speaking of RMOW, Tourism

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