Whistler Cup boosts local economy

Village businesses report increase in sales over the weekend

Whistler Cup racers from around the world did more than just ski last weekend (April 3 – 6) — they also offered a boost to the local economy.

For the last 22 years, the youth ski competition has brought international racers and their families to the resort. Although they’re here to focus on competing, they also take in the sights, pack restaurants and shop in the village, according to local businesses.

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“We have such a focus on kids who travel with their parents, relatives and friends,” said Whistler Cup volunteer chair, Wayne Holm. “I absolutely believe that this is why the event brings such an economic boost to the community. It’s both an event and a holiday for the families.”

In March, the municipality released its economic impact assessment (EIA) report of 10 local events, including the Whistler Cup. It found that in 2013, the event brought in $4.4 million for the province with $2.4 million generated in Whistler.

Many of the stores and restaurants in the village said that business definitely increased over the weekend. According to Adrienne Deeks of Ruby Tuesday, they had a good weekend in sales and that it was “up from the same weekend last year.”

Kids flocked to the stores, not always making purchases, but bringing attention to the parents accompanying them. “Business does improve, but it’s difficult to say to what extent,” said Scott Grieve of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. “The Whistler Cup kids are generally fairly easy to spot, especially at the end of the ski day so I can see them come in my shop. Kids are drawn to my shop in packs, but it’s usually when they are accompanied by adults that there is significant spending.”

Still, he added, “I absolutely think that the Whistler Cup has a positive impact on our local economy.”

As a family oriented event, Holm said he believes that participants tend to go out and do more than the average tourist.

“These people are visitors like any other visitors,” he said. “They probably spend a little more economically than (the average tourist), but they also equally participate in going out to restaurants and the mountain as anyone else.”

He also pointed out that participants and their families tend to go out as groups and do things together in the community more than at other events.

“Every year I have one of these epiphanies that is (prompted) by someone who has participated. This year it was two girls who are four years removed from the event,” said Holm. “They went on about the friendships that they made (at Whistler Cup), how motivating it was for them not just to ski, but to make lasting relationships here. This is the type of stuff that keeps you coming back.”

The event continues to draw local volunteers for the same reason.

“Our volunteers, over 300 of them are all represented by locals,” Holm said. “They come back every year, long after their kids have stopped competing because of the atmosphere that this event brings.”

Although Whistler Cup has been proven to bring an influx of cash to town, it has not received Festival, Events and Animation funding from the municipality.

Still, Holm said after the EIA report was released, the group feels well supported in the community.

“We get great support as is, so I think (the report), to me, is validation of the support that’s already given,” he said.

- With files from Whistler Publishing

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