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Whistler hotels shelter stranded travellers

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As for the guests, they’ve been mostly positive, considering all they had been through. They were initially delayed in Japan by a typhoon, then held up over the Pacific while air traffic controllers decided what to do with them. When they finally landed in Vancouver, they were generally dismayed that they were being bused another two hours to Whistler.

"I feel sorry for these people," says Manning. "They’re in a place they’re not supposed to be, and receiving information from one poor tour escort who is receiving their information third or fourth hand."

David Roberts, general manager of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, said he had about six hours notice to make arrangements to set aside 107 rooms for between 208 and 214 people.

"They’re not having a wonderful time, obviously. They had to go to the city to pick up their luggage, they couldn’t send it to them, so instead of a relaxing day or a little vacation from their ordeal, they’ve been sitting on a bus," he said Wednesday. The switchboards were jammed on the first night, but have quieted down considerably.

As for the rest of the hotel, with international and national travel backed up by a day and a half, Roberts is expecting a quiet weekend. There have already been a few cancellations.

"That’s just the short term. As for the long term, we’ll have to see."

Michael Duggan, general manager of the Pan Pacific Lodge and the chair of Tourism B.C.’s Board of Directors, has also been busy.

"Speaking for Tourism B.C., we were very involved yesterday (Sept. 11) in finding rooms for the many people who were stranded as a result of this tragedy. Our workers are still diligently at it," said Duggan.

Although travel slowed significantly during the Gulf War crisis a decade ago, and most recently as a result of Millennium Y2K fears, Tourism B.C. hasn’t given any thought to the long term impact of this week’s terrorist activities on travel and tourism.

"We haven’t really focused on that," Duggan said. "Our mandate, our focus is to help people who are displaced. There will be some long term effects, and we’ll have to deal with that down the road."

The Pan Pacific has had a few cancellations as a result of the tragedy, said Duggan, and some of the Americans who are currently staying in the hotel are stranded indefinitely.

"Right now we have to take care of our American who are trying to find out if their friends and relatives in New York are okay. The degrees of separation are really close, in that everybody knows someone who might have been affected by this tragedy."

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