U.K. travel media come to Whistler via Virgin Airlines 

Tourism Whistler makes investment to promote new summer route from London

click to enlarge Like a Virgin Billionaire Richard Branson and British Oly mpic skeleton champion Amy Williams pose outside a Virgin Airways jet in 2010.
  • Like a Virgin Billionaire Richard Branson and British Oly mpic skeleton champion Amy Williams pose outside a Virgin Airways jet in 2010.

Tourism Whistler is hoping that a $25,000 investment to promote the new Virgin route from London to Vancouver will transform into more U.K. guests in the resort.

Its contribution was part of a larger partnership with Virgin Holidays, the Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism Vancouver on a marketing campaign designed to promote Virgin Atlantic's new four days a week route from London to Vancouver. The funding was used in part to fete the U.K. travel media who arrived on the inaugural flight last week.

"Our $25,000 went a long way to make a splash," said Tourism Whistler's president and CEO Barrett Fisher.

Last Thursday and Friday the Tourism Whistler team took roughly 30 U.K. media about town — lunch at the Olympic sliding centre, ziplining, mountain biking, canoeing, going to the spa with several fortuitous black bear sightings in between.

"They were incredibly enthusiastic of their Vancouver and their Whistler trip," said Fisher. "So summer is looking very promising."

Virgin's new flights add an additional 960 seats per week from the U.K. between May and October. Up to 40,000 passengers are slated to use the service, which is expected to generate $21.5 million in tourism expenditure and create additional jobs in hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions.

"They're doing just four days a week today, but as the flights generate greater load factors, they have talked about expanding it to daily service and we're talking to them about our hope for year round service," said Fisher.

Virgin's well-known owner Sir Richard Branson was in Vancouver last week to promote the new service.

"Vancouver is such a cosmopolitan city, full of culture, shopping and restaurants, but it also offers stunning beaches and a range of outdoor adventure options on its doorstep," said Branson. "Vancouver's tourism is thriving and we believe that we can drive demand even higher by providing great competition with our award winning product and service. The U.K. has the largest number of overseas visitors to British Columbia each year so it is a natural addition to our route network."

In addition to the travel media trip, the funding from the partners has been put towards a new Virgin Holidays "Canada" travel brochure featuring a variety of B.C. tourism experiences, as well as several consumer promotions and an "all things B.C." training program delivered to more than 100 Virgin Holidays stores in the U.K.

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