Regional and local tourists keep Whistler busy 

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"We are currently working with Air Canada, Horizon and Westjet to get increased air service, because of the demand into Kelowna. Business is great, and continuing to grow."

Fisher, of Tourism Whistler, said the success of other B.C. resorts could actually help Whistler as it grows the regional market of skiers.

"In many respects these other mountains almost become important to Whistler because they are growing the regional business in skiers," she said.

"In many ways they complement our product rather than compete with it. But there is no doubt that we have to remain competitive."

Fisher said the presence of the other resorts did not hurt Whistler last year in numbers. Many skiers may try them, but Whistler has a product that can’t be found anywhere else.

That’s a sentiment echoed by Whistler-Blackcomb’s vice president of marketing and sales, Stuart Rempel.

"You see people going to a Big White and they may experiment with it but at the end of the day when they want the diversity, when they want the size, when they want the big pedestrian village and the real cool atmosphere that we have here, they come back," he said.

"What we have is this incredible youth culture here all year. It is the Mecca. It is where a lot of the best skiers and riders call home and people form all over the world want to come here because this is where their heroes live and ride and ski.

"That is something that this place has and what drives that core culture are the mountains that we have and those mountains are not available anywhere else. They are our own."

Rempel said Whistler-Blackcomb experienced many of the same trends outlined by Tourism Whistler.

The mountains were in the process of focusing on the regional market when Sept. 11 hit so re-focusing to aggressively capture that market wasn’t too much of a stretch.

It’s a trend the mountains plan to continue.

"This coming year again the emphasis will be on the regional market," said Rempel.

"We have local pricing initiatives with our pass programs our gold and regular express cards, and 7-Eleven tickets. We really want the local and the regional market to be able to ski here at significant savings and discounts."

Whistler-Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler work closely together, another reason Rempel feels the resort was able to pull together some good numbers for last ski season in the face of uncertainly.

For that same reason he believes this season will be a good one too.

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