Tourism Whistler suspends paid advertising campaigns 

Mayor Crompton has a message: Don't come to Whistler

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - Tourism Whistler has suspended all paid advertising campaigns, and is now asking visitors not to come to the resort.
  • Photo by Braden Dupuis
  • Tourism Whistler has suspended all paid advertising campaigns, and is now asking visitors not to come to the resort.

As physical distancing practices continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Tourism Whistler (TW) has suspended all paid advertising campaigns, and is now asking visitors not to come to the resort.

"Tourism Whistler is not making any March or April accommodation inventory available on Whistler.com, or accepting any accommodation bookings until after May 1. These dates will continue to be monitored and adjusted as necessary, as the situation with COVID-19 evolves," said TW president and CEO Barrett Fisher, in an email.

While some were finding bookings through TW's website as recently as this weekend, the default dates had already been adjusted by then, Fisher said, attributing the error to a "gap" in the website's booking software.

"A gap was identified in our booking funnel where if an accommodation search was made, but no dates were input, the funnel automatically defaulted to the next day. This software gap was identified and corrected on Friday night," Fisher said.

"Additionally, and in the spirit of full transparency, we had another error last week when an automated marketing email did not get blocked as intended, so it released automatically. The glitch was immediately followed by an apology email to subscribers."

TW expects the resort's current occupancy is at about one per cent, Fisher added.

The marketing shift is in line with recent messaging from Mayor Jack Crompton, who has used his frequent COVID-19 video updates to ask visitors to stay away from Whistler.

"No, I definitely never dreamed of making videos asking people not to visit our town," Crompton said with a chuckle. "Not in my wildest dreams."

But then, these are wild times.

"Forget about strange—the challenge we face is surreal, and to be able to have a dialogue with other people feels good," Crompton said, of the drive behind his video updates.

The videos—posted to his personal social media accounts and shared through Resort Municipality of Whistler channels—allow Crompton an avenue to directly communicate with Whistler residents, even as they self-isolate and practice physical distancing.

Meanwhile, a provincial directive announced on March 26 enables municipal bylaw officers to support enforcement of provincial health orders, giving Whistler's bylaw officers some additional responsibilities.

While local bylaw officers have been actively patrolling parks, parking lots and the Village Stroll, calls associated to big public gatherings have been minimal, a municipal spokesperson said.

"Local awareness around social distancing seems high and only a small percentage of people have required verbal education. If there is an issue of non-compliance in our parks regarding closures we can also enforce our Park Use bylaw," said the spokesperson.

"Bylaw officers are also monitoring businesses that offer food and drink to ensure they are following social distancing measures and we have seen a positive response from the business community taking their part."

If you see a large group gathered, call the RCMP's non-emergency line at 604-932-3044 and press "1."

Though some residents voiced concerns about physical distancing practices at the Nesters Waste Depot in the past week, noting staff was not following the proper procedures, Regional Recycling (owner/operator of the Nesters bottle depot) has now implemented new procedures and increased staff training, the RMOW spokesperson said.

These are anxious times, with many in the community feeling the immense stress and strain of a global pandemic—how is the mayor reassuring residents in these dire days?

"I'm comforted by the fact that we're all in it together," he said.

"This is going to require a full community effort to rebuild ... I expect us to pull together and to come through it strong. That doesn't mean I think it's going to be easy by any means. The challenge is enormous, but we're all in it together.

"Surreal is the best word for it."

Crompton wanted to thank everyone working in Whistler to keep the community going—grocery store and gas station workers, firefighters and police officers, transit drivers and maintenance workers, and everyone else in between.

"I encourage our community to send a quick text or a note to the healthcare workers that they know thanking them for their commitment to our community, and their work on the response," he said.

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