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Tourism industry aggressively trying to capitalize on Games

More money going to market Whistler for summer and next winter



The 2010 Games may be well and truly over but for some the work is just beginning.

In order to reap the rewards of successful Olympic and Paralympic Games that beamed images of Whistler and Vancouver into living rooms around the world, tourism organizations are ramping up their game plans.

Tourism Whistler is boosting its marketing dollars about 20 per cent for the upcoming summer and winter seasons, which translates into hundreds of thousands of extra dollars, to make the most of the profile and awareness created through the 2010 Games.

Tourism Whistler CEO and President Barrett Fisher described the strategy as proactive and aggressive.

"Clearly we know that the Games have grown awareness of Whistler as a winter destination and as one of the icons of the 2010 Games," she said.

"Really, now it's our job to... maximize that exposure and ensure that through our continued marketing efforts we're putting Whistler's name and pictures front and foremost."

And it's not just in leisure and consumer business. Conference business is also high on everyone's agenda.

The money to make these investments at Tourism Whistler comes from savings of the past two years. That money was then earmarked for post-Olympic leveraging.

Fisher's colleague at Tourism Vancouver, Rick Antonson, said the time to act is now. That's why his organization has already committed half a million dollars in campaigns to begin right away.

"I think, being absolutely candid, we have to admit that there's about a six month period when there is a heightened awareness and that has to be capitalized on right away," said Tourism Vancouver's CEO and president.

"It would be naïve for us to think that the world's attention is locked on us for the next year or two. It's not. It was locked on us for last month or two."

Four hundred thousand dollars is going into a program with Tourism British Columbia aimed at the U.S. market, beginning next month. A further $100,000 is going to the Canadian Tourism Commission for a national program aimed at taking advantage of the pent-up interest among Canadians having rediscovered their country through the 2010 Games.

More incremental dollars have yet to be officially earmarked to specific programs but money is being spent in the wake of the Games.

"I would say our most important work is ahead of us," said Antonson.

Tourism Whistler's summer marketing push will be directed to the B.C., Ontario, Alberta, Washington State and California markets. That's a wider net than the typical regional summer campaign.

The bigger winter campaign will hit traditional markets like Canada, the U.S., the UK, Australia and Germany, markets where Tourism Whistler knows there has been a boost in awareness through the Games.

"Our strategy is really to put more dollars in higher return distribution channels," said Fisher.

"Ultimately, (the strategy) would be to do fewer things better."

Part of the work for next season is to book early, before April 30, and save. Whistler Blackcomb is joining Tourism Whistler in that promotion.

"We have offers out there that are equal to the offers we had this year which were very, very aggressive," said Stuart Rempel, Whistler Blackcomb's senior vice president of marketing and sales.

"To get the occupancy and to get the business here next winter, we continue to have to be sharp and deliver great product and good service and good price.

"Just having the Games isn't going to be enough."



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