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For all the rhetoric about British Columbia’s strategic position on the Pacific Rim and how trade with Pacific Rim countries is the economic future of our province, B.C. is still very internally focused. The major Lower Mainland media fill the bulk of their pages and airwaves with stories about B.C. land use conflicts, politics and social issues. When they do focus outside the province it’s usually on Ottawa, Washington, a disaster somewhere or a sensational trial. It’s time for all British Columbians to start thinking beyond our borders. Some marketing and business people have been doing this for years, but most of us are quite happy to believe we exist as a charming, somewhat isolated province off in the north-west corner of the continent, occasionally discovered by visitors from other parts of the world. Well, the world is discovering B.C. and British Columbians don’t seem well prepared for the onslaught. In Whistler most retailers, hoteliers and marketers understand that they are part of an international economy and have therefore gone to Vail, Aspen and other similar resorts to study their successes and failures. The scope of those studies is now expanding to the Napa Valley, Hawaii and Costa Rica, particularly as Whistler becomes known as a year-round resort. (One of the things we should pay attention to when studying other resorts is the things that make those places attractive destinations may not have anything to do with what is physically built. That is, it may be the intangibles — the people, the atmosphere, the environment — that are attractive. Whistler should keep those things in mind, particularly as the town goes through another summer of substantial growth.) Despite the international perspective of many local business people, Whistler as a whole — like B.C. — spends too much time gazing internally. Everyone meets visitors from Germany, Japan, Mexico, Britain and the United States and they are generally made to feel welcome, but most of us don’t reach out to the rest of the world, as was done during Expo 86. That’s not to say we should become like some tourist areas that give up their own culture to cater to visitors — a huge part of the appeal of Whistler is that it is West Coast wilderness — but a general understanding of German, British, Mexican, American, Australian and Japanese visitors and their culture can add another dimension to Whistler. The town will become more truly international, as opposed to a Canadian resort people come to from around the world. It’s partly education but largely attitude. It’s something all of B.C. needs to practice.

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