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Tourist train contract awarded to Great Canadian Railtour

Whistler Railtours loses bid but pledges to work with proponent

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"We’ve really got to sit down, now that we know we have been selected," said Gilley.

"We need to finalize some of our operational costs, station locations and staffing requirements, those sorts of things, so we’re not in a position to be able to declare what the pricing is right now.

"What we’ve said is it… only makes sense that as we launch the product it will be consistent with what we’ve offered on our other routes and that is a price that will be acceptable to the market. It will be competitive and it will be in line with the level of service which is offered to our guests."

There are two potential train stops in Whistler that GCRC are examining.

One is at the Mons Crossing north of the village. The other is the brand new train station, which will be built with the Nita Lake Lodge development in Creekside.

Haibeck’s company owns that train station and he’s confident rail passengers will be using his station to embark and disembark, with GCRC paying a fee to use the station.

Both companies have already met to discuss the future, not only with the train station itself but also in promoting the rail/tourism industry in the province.

"We’re moving forward with a positive approach to assisting Rocky Mountain Railtours and the tourism industry in the province and Whistler, and all the other communities, to create a more comprehensive marketing and tourism experience," said Haibeck.

Indeed, Haibeck said the province encouraged Whistler Railtours to meet with GCRC soon after the contract was awarded in order to foster a working relationship, which would ultimately benefit both companies and tourism in British Columbia.

With the contract for passenger rail lost, Whistler Railtours has decided to focus on marketing.

Whistler Railtours is partnered with CruiseShipCentres, a Vancouver-based company, which books more than 20 per cent of all cruise vacations from Canada.

CruiseShipCentres buys large volumes of cabin space from cruise lines and then repackages that space with other deals.

By doing this Haibeck said they can offer a price that nobody else can touch.

The company is also affiliated with an e-based electronic company, which designs and manages the Web sites for all of the major cruise lines.

"It’s a huge reach," said Haibeck.

"We also do the same thing for American Express, Air Canada, and many others, so it’s a very powerful medium."

Another huge asset Whistler Railtours brings to the table is its relationship with First Nations, namely the Squamish Nation and the Mount Currie band.