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Tourism Whistler gets more money from RMOW

Hotel tax money to pay for marketing program for upcoming season



Tourism Whistler is getting a sizable financial boost from the municipality to fund a marketing program aimed at getting people back to Whistler this winter.

Council approved a $250,000 grant on Monday night towards the marketing program. The money will come from the Hotel Tax Reserve.

"(We are) very delighted that Whistler council saw the critical nature and the importance of growing our tourism business and investing more dollars into key target markets," said Tourism Whistler President Barrett Fisher.

Acting Mayor Marianne Wade explained at the meeting that council had discussed the grant earlier in closed-door sessions and wanted to be proactive.

According to the municipal budget, Whistler is expecting to receive more than $3.6 million in hotel tax revenues for 2005. The municipality gets two per cent of the 10 per cent hotel tax charged on hotel rooms by the province.

The $3.6 million then gets funneled into various tourism-related programs, such as the free village bus shuttle, promotion for the resort and event support, among other things. This year’s budget shows Tourism Whistler getting $525,500 from the hotel tax while $965,00 goes into the Hotel Tax Reserve. The latest grant to Tourism Whistler will come from that reserve.

Four members of council passed the grant unanimously. Councillors Gordon McKeever and Kristi Wells were excused from the vote out of conflict because they sit on the board of Tourism Whistler. Mayor Hugh O’Reilly was not at the meeting.

Despite voting for it councillor Caroline Lamont said she had two areas of concern. We can market the resort all we can, she said, but there still might be a perception out there that Whistler does not offer good value for the money, that it is too expensive. She also wanted to know how Tourism Whistler will track the marketing dollars to see if it’s money well spent.

"What we are doing right now is we’re analyzing the investment that we make in each of our target markets and looking at where we think we’re falling short and where it will be crucial to grow that investment," said Fisher.

"And so we will be presenting a plan that looks at key target markets where we think we’ll see the highest and greatest returns."

Those markets are Washington state, California, Ontario and the United Kingdom.

Council has asked Tourism Whistler to present their objectives, marketing plan and method of measuring the results of this investment at the next council meeting on Monday, Oct. 17.

TW opposes Brandywine Info Centre

Tourism Whistler’s board of directors is opposed to municipal plans that would put a tourist information centre south of Function Junction.

Instead, they want a state of the art visitor centre in the heart of the village.

The centre was slated to be built close to the highway at Brandywine.

Since those plans were made, however, Squamish has moved ahead with a $4 million Adventure and Information Centre right on the highway.

The Tourism Whistler board felt the Brandywine centre would be negatively impacted by the Squamish development. The board has asked the municipality to pursue other options.

Council will decide whether the task force should explore more sites at their next meeting.

Future waste to go to upgraded Squamish landfill

Council has pledged to send Whistler’s waste to Squamish once its landfill is up to environmental standards and has expansion approvals.

This promise came Monday night after news that the board of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District deferred making a decision to allow Whistler to export its waste to Washington.

Whistler needs SLRD approval to export its waste out of the corridor.

Earlier this year the municipality entered into a five-year contract with the Rabanco landfill in Washington as it worked to decommission the local landfill opposite Function Junction. That site is to become the athletes village during the 2010 Olympics.

The contract with Rabanco begins on Nov. 1.

Council has asked the SLRD to change the Solid Waste Management Plan to allow this to happen.

Squamish is now working on a business plan that would see its landfill become a corridor-wide solid waste disposal site. It is critical to that business plan that Whistler’s waste be dumped in Squamish in the years to come.