After nearly four years, the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) Wayfinding and Cultural Connector projects are nearing completion.
The two projects were paid for entirely by Resort Municipality Initiative funds ($2.508 million for the Cultural Connector and another $2.503 million for Wayfinding) and are designed to enhance the guest experience in the resort.
For Mayor Jack Crompton's money, it's working.
"Whenever I walk through the village with Councillor (John) Grills, it almost seems like he's looking for people thumbing through maps. I notice that there are less of them," Crompton said at the Dec. 18 council meeting.
"We are helping people find their way around with these new signs, so congratulations to the team that got that work done."
The Wayfinding project included different phases for design, fabrication and installation of the fancy new signs found around Whistler Village in recent years, as well as new map kiosks, parking lot and Valley Trail signage, and more (find more info at www.whistler.ca/wayfinding).
The Cultural Connector was also a multi-phase project, consisting of planning, design, construction and implementation of a wide range of improvements to areas like Florence Petersen Park and Village Park East as well as sidewalk and Valley Trail upgrades, public art and more.
Investing in cultural tourism offerings is starting to become more common in the province, said Kim Hood, manager of co-op marketing partnerships with Destination BC (DBC).
While not all communities benefit from RMI, some have been making use of the provincial Rural Dividend fund to boost tourism offerings, Hood said.
"We've noticed the last two intakes there's more and more communities that are doing trail type (investments), whether it's recreational trail or related to arts and culture, we are starting to see some more things pop up, which is really fantastic," she said.
"I can tell you anecdotally that we are seeing an increase of communities that are wanting to promote arts and culture. What we're seeing, it's quite organic."
Investing in cultural offerings also greatly diversifies provincial tourism offerings, because Whistler's idea of culture might be much different than something found elsewhere, Hood added.
Cultural tourism offerings are a worthy investment, as they are becoming more and more appealing to travellers seeking authentic experiences, said Seppe Mommaerts, manager of destination development with DBC.
"They are really looking (to) experience all that a travel destination has to offer in that authentic, non-exorbitant way, and they like the freedom of doing their own thing and connecting with locals, and have that interest in history," he said.
"They really embrace and discover and immerse themselves in all the aspects of the travel experience, and seeking the spontaneous and authentic experiences on their own terms."