Tourism Whistler partners with Visa International 

Now everyone can be where we want to be: Whistler.

Tourism Whistler and Visa International are hoping that a new partnership will benefit both organizations.

"What we will be doing is showcasing individual merchants and the merchant community collectively around the world," Tom Shepard, executive vice-president global marketing partnerships and sponsorship, told about 50 Tourism Whistler members Wednesday at a presentation.

"We have over a billion cards in the marketplace and we have an incredible network of communications.

"Through our over 21,000 member banks in the world we will be actively promoting this resort and this community as a destination."

The partnership is exciting news for the resort. With it comes the potential for Whistler offers to be included in statement mail-outs to clients all over the world, as well as being highlighted in advertisements including television.

It can be a very lucrative relationship.

When Visa International launched a promotion for Sydney, Australia in partnership with their tourism organization they saw a significant spending increase by cardholders in Australia.

"We ran 500 programs in 50 countries around the world all highlighting Australia as a destination," said Shepard.

"Here is where the rubber meets the road on this stuff. We saw a 23 per cent growth year-over-year in cardholder spending in Australia.

"There was 31 per cent growth from the UK and we ended up with about $1.55 billion US in Visa spending within Australia in 1999.

"There was a seven per cent in crease in tourism during a cycle, by the way, where Asian tourism was really hurting, so these are phenomenal results.

"Part of that was of course awareness that the Olympics were coming to Australia. But all of this was synergistic in creating greater awareness that Australia was not a difficult place to get to and as a Visa cardholder there were a lot of benefits for you in travelling there."

Shepard was very supportive of Vancouver and Whistler’s bid to win the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

"I support all the sites that support the Olympic Games," he said.

"However, in this case I do think this would be a spectacular host city."

He was careful to point out that Visa International’s partnership with Whistler would exist whether or not the resort was bidding for the Games and will continue even if the Vancouver-Whistler does not win.

"Our hope is that’s what will happen, but regardless of whether that happens or not we are supporting (Vancouver and Whistler) as destinations around the world.

"It is a spectacular place for people to come to from around the world."

Visa is the exclusive payment card and official payment service for the Olympic Games until 2012.

In the eight years following the Athens Games in 2004 Visa’s corporate sponsorship is expected to provide nearly $40 million US in financial support to national Olympic committees.

At Salt Lake City and its environs Visa saw its volume increase 30 per cent, adding more than $40 million US to Visa merchants. The Salt Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau reservations centre reported that overall 55 per cent of reservations made were on Visa, up from 46 per cent in 2001, and 41 per cent in 2000.

"It brings both financial investment in Tourism Whistler’s marketing as well as world wide co-operative marketing programs that we could not afford otherwise," said Barrett Fisher, vice president marketing strategy and business development for Tourism Whistler, referring to the partnership.

"They are very exclusive in choosing their partners so if we are one of the chosen ones, and we are, they have agreed to do a partnership with us, then I think that is an excellent reflection on our brand and our destination."

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