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Tourism Whistler winter campaign to focus on sabbatical prize

Business growth expected to be four per cent this winter



This winter, one Whistler fan from somewhere in the world is going to win the ultimate Whistler getaway.

According to Barrett Fisher, the president and CEO of Tourism Whistler, the lucky visitor will work over the next few months using online tools to dream up the details of their own ideal one-month sabbatical in the resort.

She said the contest winner could have the use of a Whistler home for one month with access to all that Whistler has to offer visitors.

The campaign will take place from October to January with the grand prize given away for March 2012.

The campaign built around the concept will feature local characters doing genuinely Whistler things. Each week a video featuring Whistler people will be produced as part of the campaign.

Fisher said potential visitors following the campaign would ponder the notion of unplugging in Whistler for some period of time this season if they were given the chance and the means.

"A new piece for this year is a little bit about the tone, to recognize that in Whistler we're always on the edge," said Fisher of the upcoming winter campaign to promote the resort. She added that the campaign would build on the concept used last year with the object of getting more eyes on the campaign this year compared to last year.

The campaign concept was shared with TW members at an all member meeting last week. In addition to learning about the upcoming promotional campaign TW members learned that growth is expected this winter in destination markets based on post-Olympic Games awareness and pent up demand following back-to-back heavy snow years.

Last winter was the resort's second snowiest on record. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains accumulated more than 15-and-a-half metres (51 feet) of powder.

According to a TW news release issued this week, meteorologists are calling for another La Nina weather pattern this season, which means cooler temperatures and consistent heavy precipitation.

TW is predicting business growth this winter compared to last winter of four per cent.

"We do expect to see some rebound but we are cautiously optimistic," Fisher said.

Heading into the winter season, Fisher said the summer numbers indicate this year was the second best summer on record in Whistler.

From the winter survey conducted last year, Fisher said many guests indicated they want their Whistler experience to include free access to WiFi service.

"It is more and more important that we give our customers the ability to communicate with their friends and family so they can share the experience," Fisher said.

Some economies around the world are improving so some growth is anticipated from destination markets like the United Kingdom and Australia, said Fisher. Early bookings from both areas are strong. She noted that heavy reliance on the regional market will continue but regional visits are expected to remain flat after impressive steady growth the last few years.

Work continues, according to Fisher, on developing markets in Brazil, India and China. She noted that the Brazilian economy is thriving but there are air travel capacity issues from Brazil. TW supports a potential move by Air Canada to add more flights from Rio de Janeiro to Toronto.

Fisher said a TW sales manager is going to do a sales mission in conjunction with the Canadian Tourism Commission to China in October. The Canadian delegation will participate in a major Chinese tourism trade show to further develop relationships in China.

Promotion in the growing market of India is focused on the summer season, as very few people from India are interested in visiting Whistler in the winter months.