Coming into March, visitor forecasts were down 10 per cent compared to last year - although the number is not directly comparable as Whistler hosted the Paralympics at this time last year. Compared to 2009, numbers are down roughly seven per cent.
There are a number of reasons why this might be happening, including a high Canadian dollar that is prompting families to vacation south of the border. However, another explanation for the low numbers is the fact that Spring Break is late this year for high schools south of the border.
"The U.S. is certainly a challenge because their economy has not recovered and they're vacationing domestically, and the exchange rate now is good for Canadians," said Louise Walker, manager of research at Tourism Whistler. "March break is also a little more complex this year. B.C. is pretty much right now, but for a lot of our U.S. markets it isn't until April, which is not helping our March numbers. We have Washington (State) for the week of April 16, California is April 2, New York is April 2. The U.K. is April as well. And Easter is late this year."
Regionally, Walker said the resort still appears to be doing well with family offers through March, and low-priced accommodation packages. Actual figures won't be available until the end of the month.