WSSF to fly without Easter 

World Snowboarding Championships goes south

With Easter taking place in March this year, both Whistler-Blackcomb and event organizers are hoping that the World Ski and Snowboard Festival will continue to be a successful tourist draw in April. A major marketing campaign is already being planned for this winter to get the word out.

"This year, more than ever, WSSF will be an important economic driver for April as Easter falls in March," says Barrett Fisher, vice-president of marketing strategy and business development for Tourism Whistler. "The combined efforts and support of the community and the presenting partners are imperative to the festival’s success, which will in turn ensure a strong April."

In recent years, the WSSF has been held on Easter weekend, which is traditionally a busy time for the resort. Although the WSSF events have been a popular draw since their inception in 1996, some regarded the recent success of the festival as a coincidence and questioned whether businesses and the community should assume any of the costs, such as extra policing for the Big Air competition.

"We’ve made a lot of headway in that direction, and have opened up the lines of communication with the municipality, for example," says Doug Perry, president of W1, the company organizing the WSSF. "After discussion, people are realizing that this festival is really important to everyone. All the stakeholders are showing unbelievable support for the festival, as is the rest of the community this year.

"We’re not a third party coming into town, the WSSF was born in this town, it lives in this town, and we want everyone to feel a part of it."

According to W1’s research, the WSSF is responsible for approximately $10 million in tourist dollars. Of the tourists interviewed during previous festivals, 16.9 per cent said they were in Whistler purely for the WSSF, and 37.1 per cent named the WSSF as one of the key reasons they made the trip.

On Nov. 9, Telus Communications announced that it would continue to be the title sponsor of the WSSF, and signed a multi-year sponsorship deal to that effect.

"We are absolutely delighted with our continued support of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival," says Roy Osing, executive vice president and chief Marketing officer at Telus. "This event has grown into a truly national program that is now the benchmark and envy of ski resorts world-wide. It further complements one of our marketing objectives to reach a youthful, active demographic both in the regional and national markets."

In addition to their role as the title sponsor of the WSSF for the past three years, Telus is also a major supporter of the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation, the Vancouver Whistler 2010 Olympic Bid, and through the bid, the Legacies Now Telus Whistler Sport Centre.

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