Whistler will be getting more than $7 million this year from the province to fund tourism projects, up $700,000 over last year.
The increase in Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding is a direct reflection of the hotel occupancy in the resort last year.
And so the circle continues — hotel occupancy climbs, more money flows to the municipality from the province and more money is spent to boost occupancy for tourism-related projects.
Last year's $2.6 million Festivals, Events and Animation (FE&A) program for example shows a direct impact on hotel room nights over big festival weekends like Wanderlust and Crankworx.
"We were given these funds by the province to invest in the growth of tourism and that's what we've done and the results are paying off, so it is terrific," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, after Tuesday's council meeting where she made the funding announcement.
The mayor pointed to council decisions early in 2012 that perhaps made an impact to the program and the payoff in increased funding.
Council, she explained, developed the policy framework around the use of the RMI monies, as well as putting working groups and committees in place to make recommendations to council on where the money should be spent.
"As boring as that sounds I think (it) was instrumental in ensuring that we were strategic with the use of the funds and now we see the results," said Wilhelm-Morden.
The RMI program began in B.C. in 2006 after significant lobbying from Whistler over the years. Originally called "financial tools," Whistler was the driving force in getting the province to recognize the important contribution of resort communities and how they needed funding to stay current.
"RMI funding is part of our commitment to help grow tourism in British Columbia," said Pat Bell, minister of jobs, tourism and skills training, and the minister responsible for labour. "The province recognizes the importance of resort-oriented municipalities in supporting our provincial tourism economy and creating jobs for British Columbians."
Whistler gets the lion's share of the RMI funding in B.C. based on the hotel numbers.
When asked how council may spend that unexpected boost to the RMI budget, the mayor said it had yet to have those discussions.
But, she said, the Economic Partnership Initiative Committee will be bringing recommendations to council this quarter on ways to grow the resort's economy.
"We've got the EPI Committee looking at strategic endeavours and so where some of this funding will go will be dependent on what the EPI recommendations are," said Wilhelm-Morden.
The mayor thanked the province for its commitment to the program.
"We simply would not be able to do so much that we do in this town without this program," she said.
Whistler also announced its free concert series throughout the summer, released months before last summer's lineup due to advanced planning and funding of the program.
Here's what's coming:
June 29 — Matt Dusk
June 30 — 54-40
July 1 — Ruckus Deluxe, Kalan Wi, Jeremy Fisher
July 5 — The English Beat
July 6 — The Strumbellas, The Trews
July 13 (during the Children's Arts Festival) — Ache Brazil
July 14 (during the Children's Arts Festival) — Ali Milner, The Lost Fingers
July 16, 17 — Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO): afternoon quartets/ quintets, three concerts per day
July 26 — The Boom Booms, Hey Ocean!
July 27 — Dessy Di Lauro, Maestro
July 19, 20 — Evening concerts
July 21 — Afternoon concert
Aug. 30 through Sept. 1 — TBA