The Whistler Education Group (WEG) is trying to connect the puzzle pieces between tourism and education, creating another reason for people to visit the resort community.
The group is made up of seven Whistler residents whose goal is to explore if there is a market for bringing educational programming and courses to Whistler.
After just a month into the WEG’s feasibility study, group members are encouraged by the preliminary results and support they have received from the community.
Member of WEG Laurie Grant, a business lecturer at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, has put two of her students in charge of conducting the group’s feasibility study. They are taking into account Whistler’s existing educational infrastructure, support from the community and the types of educational programs that might be introduced.
“So far our students are finding the community in support of our group and are willing to be involved in a potential business model,” said Grant. “In the past when people and tourism groups have tried to hold educational programs in Whistler, there hasn’t been a streamlined process in place to help find classroom space, accommodation, parking and all the other necessary logistics.
“People have given up considering Whistler as an education destination and we are finding that Whistler residents want that to change. We are also discovering that there is a strong base of locals who are involved in educational programming but commute outside of Whistler to teach. Many have expressed interest in keeping their expertise and programs in Whistler.”
Psychologist and chair of WEG, Stephen Milstein, said the initial findings from the study are encouraging and support his hypothesis of Whistler needing a conduit to help organize and attract educational programs.
“The students have spoken with approximately 50 people in the community such as municipal employees, volunteer organizations, teachers, and anyone who might have a stake in the business model that we hope to develop,” said Milstein. “I actually hosted a psychology program here in Whistler a few years ago and found it immensely frustrating to organize. I’m a local so I can only imagine how hard it must be for others out of town.
“This is part of the reason why I founded WEG. I recognized there was a need for training groups in Whistler and that those groups could be leveraged by our successful tourism industry.”
The students conducting the feasibility study will present their findings to WEG on Aug. 21. If results are positive then the group’s next step will be to find the best possible organization to implement their business model and start actively attracting educational business to Whistler.
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