Despite a strong start, bookings this past winter will end up flat compared to last year, said President Barrett Fisher at Tourism Whistler’s annual general meeting Tuesday afternoon.
She said this is largely due to challenges like the U.S. economy, border-crossing construction and delays and increased competition from other resorts.
To mitigate this type of volatility, Tourism Whistler has focused on diversifying its portfolio of target markets.
“It is critical to have a balance of potential markets,” said Fisher. “The UK market helped counterbalance that, so we are trying to make sure we have a balance.”
Fisher said that beyond the UK, markets that were up this past year included Canada, Latin America and Australia. Markets that were down were the U.S. and Mexico.
She added that Tourism Whistler has done research into the U.S. market and found that Americans are still planning to travel next year, but hope to take shorter trips and spend less time at their destinations.
“This makes promoting Whistler’s value even more important,” she said.
Tourism Whistler is also focusing on promoting new facilities in Whistler to visitors, like the Peak to Peak Gondola that will open in December, the Squamish Lil’wat Culture Centre which will open in June, and Whistler Olympic Park.
Tourism Whistler will also be sending two representatives to the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing this year to promote Whistler as one of the 2010 host cities.
The annual general meeting saw approximately 30 members attend to hear about the organization’s focus, financial situation and elect three new board of directors for next year.
During the meeting, director of finance Karen Playfair said that over 50 per cent of the organizations funds were used for marketing and sales in 2007. The budget for marketing and sales has grown from $4.9 million in 2003 to a projected $7.5 million in 2008.
Tourism Whistler procures funds through assessments, partnerships, hotel tax and net operations.
The election also saw Michael Kaile assume the title of Director of Single-Managed Lodging, Large, with 1,403 votes over Saad Hasan who received 854. Jim Allard is the new Director of Multi-Managed Lodging, Village, category with 298 votes over Rick Browning who received 233. And Mike Duggan will become the Director of Multi-Managed Lodging, Other, receiving 50 votes to Patrick McCurdy’s 45 votes.
Tom Horler gained the position of Director at Large by acclamation.