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Banff begins selling itself to China

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BANFF, Alberta — A group of Chinese reporters has toured the Banff area in anticipation of the day, probably late this year, when the Chinese government begins allowing Chinese citizens to visit Canada as tourists. Only business visits are now allowed.

Among those visiting Banff was the chief editor of Tourism Magazine, Qin Zhijun, who planned a 10-page spread about the Canadian Rockies. Chinese has wealthy people who "want to see the world and have money to spend," she told the Banff Crag & Canyon through an interpreter.

The World Tourism Organization forecasts that China will have 100 million outbound travelers a year by 2020, making it the potential fourth largest source of outbound travel in the world.

Vail considering more activities

VAIL, Colo. — As Whistler contemplates its future, something similar, minus the anxiety, is going on in Vail. There, like many of the ski towns, the reverberations from 2001 caused a great deal of hand-wringing. But for Vail, like a lot of ski towns, things had begun to go south more than a decade before. The ski market had flattened, sales tax collections were flattening, and real estate was becoming the economy.

Now, retail sales are on the upswing again in Vail, as in most ski towns, and redevelopment to beat all previous building booms is well underway. It’s even possible that skier days this year might beat the record set a decade ago.

Still, Vail town officials are launching into a new effort to figure out how to use this new infrastructure – the assumption being that little additional growth can be expected in skier days. Instead, the general thought is that Vail must enlarge the offerings of off-slope activities of interest to aging baby boomers. Design Workshop recently inked a $125,000 contract to guide this new discussion.

Winter Parkers jumping again?

WINTER PARK, Colo. — When Intrawest took over at Winter Park several years ago, it reallocated the space devoted to ski jumping to other purposes, mostly beginner instruction. That didn’t set well with many locals in Winter Park, which has its roots in the same ski-jumping tradition that produced Steamboat’s renowned Howlsen Hill.

Now, a proposal has been announced for a new ski jumping facility, this time outside of the ski area, but closer to the commercial core of Winter Park. However, from a report in the Winter Park Manifest, the idea seems to have shaky legs, as it is not clear who would administer the program. Neighbors also find environmental grounds for opposition, not to mention disturbance of their relative peace.

Mine site to be $1 billion development

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