For sport events, the racecation concept is arrestingly simple: why not encourage attendees to linger and turn their trip into a holistic vacation?
In British Columbia, Whistler Village is on a mission to pair top-notch competition events with an endless banquet of recreational amenities. Says Louise Walker, vice-president, marketing, for Tourism Whistler: “We really wanted people to spend time in Whistler, not just come for the event and then go home.”
While winter remains Whistler’s “economic heart,” Walker says the off-season actually boasts more visitors. This is partly thanks to third-party events like Subaru Ironman Canada and Tough Mudder, plus unique-to-Whistler events like the Whistler 50 Relay and Ultra trail run. Non-runner events like the Crankworx Whistler mountain-biking event and Wanderlust yoga festival also encourage vacation-length stays.
Destination is key here, says Walker. “People are coming for the event and for Whistler.” But besides showcasing local magnificence via activities like trail hikes and zip-lining, Whistler actively taps its Vancouver 2010 legacy. Current summer choices at former Olympic sites include bobsleigh (on wheels) and biathlon.
Whistler is known for how effectively various players (i.e., the municipality, Tourism Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb, committees, and local businesses) work together. Partnering with event producers is also crucial, Walker adds. “We help them raise awareness and drive participation… They can help us extend length of stay and make sure their participants are aware of what else there is to do in Whistler.”
Compared to winter, Whistler’s summer demographic includes more regional and fewer international visitors—but with more varied interests. “It’s definitely not just about high-impact or athletic activities,” says Walker. Consequently, Whistler’s summer offerings include everything from outdoor concerts, movies, nutrition series, family events and art shows to a farmers’ market. “One of the most popular things we’ve seen in Whistler is the Peak 2 Peak Gondola,” says Walker. “So even if you’re not a hiker, you’re still able to go up the mountain and have access to all those beautiful vistas.”
Photos: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane