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Three American cities to be targeted by WRA New York, Dallas and Chicago are the three primary markets the Whistler Resort Association will target when the bilateral air agreement between Canada and the U.S. takes effect. "The talks were slow to get going, and actually stalled for a while, but this is fabulous news now," Barrett Fisher, the WRA's director of marketing, said of the framework for an agreement announced Dec. 22. Negotiators will hammer out details over the next three months, but the agreement will give Canadian airlines immediate access to American cities from any point in Canada. It will also mean Vancouver International Airport will pick up 12 new flights to U.S. cities by American carriers over the next two years. Those new direct routes to American cities will mean more visitors to Whistler. "Vancouver, of all the Canadian cities, probably got the short end of the stick (in terms of direct flights to American cities)," Fisher said. New York is a key market for Whistler, and could become bigger than California. "New York doesn't have direct access (to Vancouver) and they're already coming," said Fisher. United Airlines has a direct flight from Chicago to Vancouver, but if Canadian Airlines added a direct link to the mid-west city it would be a big plus for the resort, Fisher said. Tourism B.C. and Tourism Vancouver have made inroads into the Dallas market, which includes a lot of skiers. The WRA attended the Dallas Ski Show for the first time last year. The resort association and Tourism Vancouver usually team up with one airline on co-operative promotion campaigns in a city or market, jointly marketing vacations in Vancouver or Whistler. Whistler is usually promoted in winter and Vancouver in the summer. Vancouver International Airport authorities have said their priorities for direct air links are Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, New York, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Miami and Cleveland. Canadian Airlines International, with its ties to American Airlines, is expected to take advantage of American's hubs in Dallas and Chicago.

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