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Tourism Whistler posts busiest July on record

Average weekend occupancy at 84 per cent



It's becoming a familiar summer refrain in Whistler — last month broke room night numbers making 2015 the busiest July on record.

It comes on the heels of the busiest June on record, when Tourism Whistler (TW) posted a mammoth 26-per-cent increase in room nights over June 2014.

That momentum lessened somewhat in July, but room nights were still above the same month last year.

"What that means is that July 2015 is now the busiest July on record in terms of room nights," said Patricia Westerholm, TW's manager of communications.

"I wouldn't say it's surprising. There was great weather and it's such a busy month with festivals and events. It really started with Canada Day long weekend with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performances and then it just continued through the month."

July occupancy peaked on the Saturday of the Canada Day long weekend, when the resort was at 94 per cent capacity.

The average weekend occupancy was 84 per cent, "which is getting up there with winter numbers," Westerholm said.

Wildfires and the accompanying air quality advisories dampened the numbers somewhat, Westerholm said.

"The data actually does show that on those dates that we had the air quality advisories, that the numbers were impacted a bit," she said.

"If we looked at the information heading into the month, we would have been pacing ahead, and then once the advisories hit we did lose some traction there."

The specific data concerning the effect of the wildfires is hard to pinpoint, Westerholm said, though she did hear anecdotally that there were some cancellations because of the smoke.

"As we look at the rest of the summer, August is pacing ahead of last year, and there's obviously still lots of time to book for September and October," Westerholm said.

"I would say that we're on track for a record-breaking summer for room nights."

But as the visitors come in droves, Whistler's labour shortage continues to put a strain on service in the resort.

"It's definitely something we're paying attention to," Westerholm said.

"I would say it's primarily a business issue at this moment. We definitely recognize and commend the (Whistler) Chamber of Commerce and the local business community for the work that they're doing to address it and still protect the customer experience."

TW collects visitor feedback through its annual surveys, which should provide some insight into how the labour shortage has affected visitors, Westerholm said.

She added: "We will definitely be looking at that info as it comes in."