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Latin American visitors growing



This week marks the second time the Cymet family has traveled from their Mexico City home to Whistler for a holiday.

And they will come back again, as will their friends. They are part of a growing number of tourists from South American and Mexico making North America’s #1 ski resort their holiday destination.

In the 1999—2000 ski season there were 103 per cent more visitors from Mexico than in the previous season, which also grew 93 per cent over the 1996-1997 season.

"We come here and it is a paradise," said Nydia Cymet as she watches her 12-year-old twin daughters, Nydia (junior) and Mariana, and 10-year-old Enrique (junior) play in the snow with their father.

"It is a nice place. There are runs for everybody, easy and difficult, so you can choose whatever you want and it is a very beautiful place. I love it."

The Cymets, even two-year-old Daniel, enjoy the pedestrian village, the clean air, and the glistening snow.

"You can find different things here that you can’t find in Mexico," said dad Enrique Cymet.

"Like the mountains, the snow, (and) the forests are beautiful too.

"And the town is small. You don’t see many cars or pollution like you do in Mexico."

And he believes it is a good deal right now to travel to Whistler, which Cymet said was famous in Mexico.

It is advertised in newspapers and was also recently named the number one winter destination spot in the travel magazine for a popular newspaper in Mexico City, the Reforma.

"Yes, you are famous," he said.

Tourism Whistler actively promotes the resort in Mexico and Brazil and has done for the last five or so years.

"It is a growing market and it will continue to grow," said Roz Casey, Tourism Whistler’s director of destination awareness.

"It is definitely a strong emerging market for us."

Part of the reason lies in the attractiveness of the Canadian dollar over the US dollar, making Whistler a more affordable destination.

Mexicans have previously preferred Vail for ski holidays. Brazilians, recognized as big spenders, have always liked Aspen.

But both are choosing Whistler these days, enjoying the trendiness of the resort and the availability of name-brand hotels like the Westin and Fairmont Chateau.

They like to come at Christmas and especially Easter when kids are out of school for two weeks. And since many come as families larger condos are becoming a popular choice for accommodations.

"They like to stay in two and three bedroom places," said Casey. "And they enjoy the ski-in ski-out option."