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 March 28, 2003
Whistler Conference Centre To Open In August With New Business Booked

 Tourism Whistler has announced the date of the official grand opening of the renovated Whistler Conference Centre for August 7, 2003, two months ahead of schedule. According to Doug Stackhouse, Director, Facility & Event Operations for Tourism Whistler: "The project has been a best case scenario from the beginning, from the good weather through the winter to an efficient construction team. We have made excellent progress and will open ahead of our original target date of October 1, 2003."

Interior work has progressed well with deconstruction, concrete and structural steel framing complete, while the new entranceway and roof replacement will continue through April and May, followed by interior finishings.

Tourism Whistler will host meeting planners, media and other guests to celebrate the opening August 7-10, and will hold a grand opening party on August 8, 2003.

"The new date is great news for us in terms of marketing the conference centre," states Lynda Gilroy, Director of Meetings & Incentive Experience for Tourism Whistler, operator of the Whistler Conference Centre. "The earlier we can start to show the new signature facility to meeting planners, the sooner we can secure additional new business to the resort, building on conference groups already booked through 2005."

The beautifully renovated facility and increased capacity at the new Whistler Conference Centre to host larger, long-term groups is already translating into increased conference business for Whistler. All resort businesses will benefit from the additional business generated over the coming years.

Eight groups of 4,000 room nights have been confirmed for October through December 2003, with more room nights anticipated. To date, a total of 35 groups representing 38,000 room nights are in the works for 2004 projected to increase to 48,000 room nights. The IACVB (International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus) estimates that each conference delegate typically spends $264 per day while meeting in a destination.

With the conference centre now re-opening in August, the smaller Whistler hotels with little or no meeting space now also have the opportunity to capture last minute corporate and SMERF (social, medical, educational, religious and fraternity business) bookings they would otherwise have had to decline in 2003 due to the conference centre closure. Whistler hotels with meeting space will also have the additional opportunity to bid on larger groups offering the Whistler Conference Centre as exhibit or overflow meeting space.

In 2001, the Whistler Conference Centre generated 32,000 room nights, and generated $18.5 million to Whistler. Tourism Whistler estimates that the renovation will result in a 50 per cent increase in room nights generated by 2004, with 48,000 room nights representing a $25-million-dollar direct economic impact. Throughout 2003, Tourism Whistler is working on confirming more than 40,000 room nights of new business for 2005 and beyond that would represent an economic impact of $21 million and materialize into a solid foundation of business to build upon over the coming years.

Tourism Whistler is the member-based marketing organization representing Whistler, and operating the Whistler Conference Centre, the Whistler Golf Club and