In a move that bodes well for the resort’s tourism and business sectors, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce (WCC) saw three of its policy papers unanimously approved at the Canadian Chamber’s annual general meeting in Kelowna this weekend.
The assembly of over 400 delegates passed the resolutions, which sought to address labour shortages and boost tourism in Canada.
“The three policy papers all speak to issues important to the strength of Whistler’s local economy and were based on feedback we received from members on the issues that were important to their business needs today,” read an email from Whistler Chamber CEO Val Litwin.
One of the resolutions called on senior levels of government to improve access for airlines that offer flights to Canadian cities, particularly in Western provinces, by relaxing existing bilateral agreements. The paper emphasizes the need to remove restrictive and anti-competitive clauses, foreign ownership restrictions and additional fees and taxes associated with the agreements.
A second position paper asked Ottawa to continue Canada’s current bilateral agreement with Australia that allows a two-year Working Holiday Visa, and to extend a similar arrangement to several other countries, including Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K.
“There was significant focus on visa policies given our profile in the tourism sector and the need to address the question of our ability to attract quality workers to the resort and how we can reduce employee turnover by extending the length of time that these quality workers can remain in their positions,” said Litwin.
The final resolution asked Parliament to streamline the tourist visa application and approval process for emerging economies, such as China and India, in order to boost visitation from those growing markets to Canada.
Tourism Whistler, who played an integral role in drafting the policy papers, lobbied the federal government last year to ease the tourist visa approval process for Mexican citizens, resulting in the creation of a number of additional processing offices in that country.
“We are delighted that these policy papers have been accepted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and would like to thank the Whistler Chamber of Commerce for distributing our messages through both their B.C. and Canadian chamber networks,” said Tourism Whistler CEO and president Barrett Fisher in an email. “Tourism Whistler was pleased to research and write the air access and tourist visa position papers, and we appreciate the further momentum that the Chamber’s efforts have achieved in assisting us with our advocacy efforts to remove barriers to travel.”
With the resolutions passed, the Canadian Chamber can now proactively lobby the federal government for change on these key issues.