Winter numbers not as bad as some might think 

Tourism Whistler preparing to launch new brand identity

Tourism Whistler has released a business update showing winter numbers are down but not as badly as some might have expected.

A March 29 release states that "room night forecasts for the entire season (Nov. 1-April 30) will be behind last year by two per cent overall.

"But in the season to date (Nov. 1-Feb. 28) room nights sold in Whistler were two per cent ahead of the same period last year and room nights booked by long-haul markets increased 10 per cent over January 2004.

"The strongest growth came from destination U.S. markets, the U.K. and Japan."

Whistler’s climate has been in the news a lot because annual snowfall often exceeds 10 metres, but this year the best snowfall is happening now and the base has not breached 200 cm all season.

But Breton Murphy from Tourism Whistler said the effects of the weather have not been as bad as some might have inferred.

"We have come to expect exceptional weather here and when there’s a blip on the screen… sometimes people infer that it’s drastically affected business, which is why we’ve tried to present the facts," said Murphy.

The rain was heaviest during the FIS Snowboard World Championships in January but Tourism Whistler recorded an increase of 1.4 per cent in room nights sold compared to the same period in 2004 and the event attracted an estimated 45,000 visitors.

In February the Women’s Week promotion and Whistler-Blackcomb’s first Learn to Ski or Ride Week helped boost the number of people in the resort.

Tourism Whistler is also promoting Rocky Mountain Rail Tours and some positive changes in the amount of air access from Vancouver through Harmony Airways and America West Airlines.

"The Whistler Mountaineer and Rocky Mountaineer routes, scheduled for service beginning in May 2006, represent a significant tourism marketing opportunity for Whistler. It is expected that the new Whistler Mountaineer route will bring an additional 35,000 guests to Whistler in the first year."

Murphy said the re-branding of Tourism Whistler had been a huge task and the public will be invited to see the result on Wednesday, April 27 between 8:30 a.m. and noon in conference centre.

"The re-branding is a big deal… because it’s really helped us articulate what we want people to be saying when they think Whistler," he said.

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