Hard numbers won’t be available until mid-August, but heading into the annual Crankworx freeride mountain bike festival, Tourism Whistler says bookings are up slightly over last year.
That’s good news according to Breton Murphy, manager of community and media relations for Tourism Whistler.
“We’re actually pacing ahead of last year for the festival, which is good when you take into account the fact that last year a number of festival days overlapped with larger group business such as the Oracle conference that was in town,” he said.
“Overall I’d say we’re tracking on par for last summer, which is a good sign because visitors were up 14 per cent over the previous summer and it was our best summer ever.”
June visitor numbers were up slightly over last year, and so far July is slightly behind. However, with stronger bookings through August and September, Murphy believes that Whistler will finish the summer more or less on par with last year.
“We don’t have exact numbers yet, and will take a close look at everything once hotels and our partners in the accommodations industry send us all their numbers for the summer,” said Murphy. “So far it’s been nothing but good. Our weather hasn’t been the best this year, and we have the ongoing challenge of external factors that we can’t control like the exchange rate, gas prices, and some confusion over passports. To be this strong, despite these challenges, is testament to the fact that our messaging about the value we offer is really resonating. There have been terrific deals all through the summer.”
According to a Tourism Whistler survey taken during the 2006 Crankworx, there were 216,000 people in Whistler during the festival with an average of 24,000 visitors a day. Bookings were up 32 per cent over 2005, while the Whistler Mountain Bike Park visits averaged out to 1,400 riders per day.
Guests were also staying longer, with an average of 6.6 nights per guest, and 61 per cent of survey respondents were staying in paid accommodation.
An economic impact study conducted by the Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association, with funding from the provincial government, found that 23,000 people traveled to Whistler solely to attend Crankworx, with expenditures of more than $11.5 million.
Crankworx runs from Friday, July 20 to Sunday July 29, and features seven freeride events, daily concerts, a mountain bike industry expo, cultural events like slideshows and movie premieres, and other attractions in the village like Ryan Leech’s Trials Demonstration.