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B.C.'s tourism minister praises Whistler small businesses

Naomi Yamamoto comments on strong tourism numbers at Chamber lunch Oct.15



In honour of small business month in British Columbia, minister of state for tourism and small business Naomi Yamamoto took the podium at a Whistler Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday.

Yamamoto spoke to chamber members about the importance of small business in British Columbia, noting that 98 per cent of all B.C. businesses are classified as small businesses.

In Whistler, 93 per cent of businesses are small businesses, she said.

"You guys and girls are the heart and soul of your communities, so not only do you own and run your own business and hire people, but I know you're also volunteering for everything," Yamamoto said.

"You're coaching your kids hockey team, you're out there in the pouring rain cutting oranges for soccer, you're raising money for the hospital foundation... you're doing all those things as well as running your businesses, and your community is stronger for that."

Yamamoto also spoke about the importance of the tourism sector, and encouraging statistics that have been released recently.

"The hotel occupancy rates and the average daily (room rates) for hotels was increased last year, and so far in 2014 we're actually seeing that trend continue," she said.

International overnight visits to the province have also been increasing, particularly from the Asia-Pacific region, which saw an 11 per cent increase from January to July of this year over the same time last year.

For more on small business month, pick up next Thursday's Pique.