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Plotting the way forward

One Whistler meets to discuss Whistler post-Olympic future



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On the topic of resort success, some chamber initiatives include measuring progress on a number of fronts, holding businesses accountable for service and ensuring that members are prepared for the future.

"For six or seven years leading up to the Games our role was to make sure our members were prepared," said Famulak. "That is still our role, making sure that our members are prepared for future opportunities; for example, what to expect when providing service to the Chinese and Indian tourism markets."

Famulak says it has been a tough few years for the resort with the economic downturn and Olympic aversion affect. "Lower numbers affecting businesses across the spectrum is the reality, there's been lots of finger-pointing, but it's time to move on from that. The success of the resort depends on us all being engaged."


Whistler Blackcomb cautiously optimistic


Dave Brownlie, the Chief Operating Officer for Whistler Blackcomb, has seen a lot of changes recently now that the resort has been spun off as a separate company that is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The company is committed to growing numbers, which he says is necessary for the town. In terms of skier visits he says the resort has hit the two million mark for eight of the last 12 seasons, while increasing the number of visits to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park to 130,000 over 10 years.

"The customer mix has changed dramatically," he said. "In the '90s and early 2000s, 40 per cent of visitors were from the U.S. (which now accounts for just over 20 per cent of overnight visitors). With a 64 per cent dollar exchange, we were all brilliant business people. The people kept company, and we kept adding capacity - more capacity on the mountain, more rooms in the community, more restuarants, more grocery stores, more activities and attractions. We have a lot of stuff here, it's pretty clear we need more people."

Brownlie pointed to Park City, Utah, which has seen winter visits increase an average of 6.2 per cent over the five years following the 2002 Winter Games - growth that was five times higher than the ski industry as a whole. "We don't expect that, but we do expect to grow over the next five years - and if we get even half of that we will be successful as a resort."

Brownlie says the goal is to make Whistler Blackcomb the number one mountain resort in the world.