Media Releases

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whistler ranks at the top of the list when it comes to green meetings

Tourism Whistler media release
For immediate release - April 19, 2012

Whistler ranks at the top of the list when it comes to green meetings


Whistler, B.C. – It’s good to be green in Whistler. The resort has received the top score in North America for verified listings in the MeetGreen Destination Verification, charting its course a sustainable option for meeting and event planners and putting it at the top of the list for the Best Places to Meet Green.

Recognizing the demand from meeting planners looking for “green” destinations and the importance of collecting information about the sustainability efforts of the resort, Tourism Whistler enlisted the expertise of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability. Whistler surveys were conducted over a two-month period, through the MeetGreen program: the most recognized verification provider in the meetings sector. As a result of Whistler’s efforts, the resort has achieved MeetGreen’s top score, out of all verified North American destinations.

Best Places to MeetGreen is a designation that recognizes the ability of destinations to provide green meeting services. The list scores areas according to environmental programs in place at the convention and visitors’ bureau, conference centre and hotels. The scores for each destination are third-party verified by MeetGreen; align with practices recommended by the Convention Industry Council, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada. The scores reflect actual practices that reduce environmental impacts and give credit for action as well as degree of performance, meaning destinations with the highest recycling rates and percentages of green guest rooms receive the highest scores.

Whistler received a total of 153 points; 22 in the city attributes, 63 for conference centre and 68 points in the hotel category. Second in the rankings is Portland, Oregon with a total of 147 points, followed by San Francisco, California with 141 points. Rounding out the top five are Banff, in fourth place with 134 points and Calgary with 133 points.

“We want Whistler to be recognized among meeting and event planners as a destination that’s leading the industry in sustainable practices,” said Karen Goodwin, Tourism Whistler’s VP of Sales. “From our experience at Tourism Whistler, we are already receiving a number of sustainability performance requests from large conferences and events. This MeetGreen recognition is vital to positional Whistler as the leading destination for group business.”

The Whistler Conference Centre was recognized for its recycling program which has an average diversion rate of 76 per cent. The compost system for food and landscaping waste also attributed to the score as well as the catering program which focuses on purchasing local and organic food.

Of Whistler’s properties, the Delta Whistler Village Suites came out on top scoring the highest in the hotel category with recognition for its commitment to reducing its impact on the environment through programs like the chain’s national sustainability program, Delta Greens.

MeetGreen is a participant in the Convention Industry Council’s Green Meetings Task Force and a member of Meeting Professionals International, the Professional Convention Management Association and Green Meeting Industry Council.

As Shawna McKinley, Director of Sustainability at MeetGreen, points out, it can be difficult for event planners to spend the time researching the best “green” destinations. There are many details to consider: the venue, hotels, caterers, local transportation infrastructure. Best Places to MeetGreen is the list which profiles the verified destinations, sharing the research about the capability of destinations to host ‘greener’ events. “Whistler is unique in that its meeting hotels exhibit strong green practices across the board,” said McKinley. “Sometimes a destination will have a few stellar properties, followed by many that are somewhat ‘green’ and quite a few who are not yet on the journey. Whistler exhibits an overall higher level of implementation of sustainable practices. This fits the culture of the destination, but it also reflects the business benefits of going green. Saving money is a big motivator for properties to be water, waste and energy-wise,” she said.

“Aided by the non-profit Whistler Centre for Sustainability, the Whistler municipality adopted and is making progress on a long term sustainability plan. This gives planners some reassurance that Whistler is already being strategic in implementing tactics that support greener events. For example: Whistler’s hotels and conference centre have infrastructure in place for recycling and composting. In 2011, 52.4 per cent of waste in Whistler was recycled, composted or otherwise diverted from the landfill. Over half of the hotels in Whistler are within five city blocks from the conference centre or are easily accessible using public transportation. The adoption of a high number of sustainable practices by hotels was a primary reason the destination scored highly.”

The Whistler Centre for Sustainability is pleased to see the results reflect so positively on the resort.
“We were thrilled to work with Tourism Whistler and Whistler businesses on this assessment,” said Cheeying Ho, Executive Director for the centre. “The fact that almost 100 per cent of businesses took part in the survey, despite this winter being one of the busiest on record, demonstrated that businesses are increasingly committed and aligned with the resort experience, environmental and community goals outlined in Whistler2020. Whistler has made excellent strides and is very well positioned to supply a meeting and event industry looking more and more toward destinations with high quality service and a business ethic toward environmental stewardship and community enrichment.”

Tourism Whistler operates the Whistler Conference Centre, owned by the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
Soliciting meetings and incentive business while providing meeting space to hotels that do not have sufficient space to house under-one-roof business, the focus of Tourism Whistler’s conference sales staff is on the customer – fulfilling client preferences and requirements regarding accommodation, location, capacity, quality and amenities, timing and price. Leads for accommodation associated with meetings are distributed to Tourism Whistler accommodation members based on the client needs.

In 2011, Tourism Whistler, as the convention and visitors’ bureau for the resort, was selected as a winner of the Smart Meetings 2011 Platinum Choice Award. As a result, Whistler was among the elite group of honorees featured in the magazine’s December issue and on their website www.smartmeetings.com

Group business has traditionally represented between15-30 per cent of room bookings in Whistler with the highest demand occurring from April through October. Room nights generated by Whistler Conference Centre business have historically been more than 50,000 annually.

Meeting planners can visit Tourism Whistler’s website at www.whistler.com/meetings to learn more about the variety of opportunities in Whistler. The resort offers 5,400 rooms for accommodation and the Whistler Conference Centre has 65,000 square-feet of meeting space with multiple set-up options, while the resort offers more than 150,000 square feet of conference space in a variety of venues. Off-site meetings can also be easily arranged. Meeting options are available at all budget levels.

 

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Whistler is Canada's premier year-round leisure and meeting destination located in the Coast Mountains 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Consistently rated the top ski resort in North America, Whistler was the Host Mountain Resort of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The resort offers an extensive range of accommodations totaling 10,000 bedrooms among 24 hotels as well as townhomes, condos, B&Bs and chalets. Whistler also boasts more than 100 restaurants and bars, 200 retail shops, 25 spas and countless activity options from world-renowned skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking and golf, to hiking, rock climbing, and watersports. The Resort Municipality of Whistler is home to a diverse community of more than 10,000 permanent residents.

Tourism Whistler is the member-based marketing and sales organization representing Whistler, operating the Whistler Conference Centre, Whistler Golf Club, Whistler Visitor Centre, as well as 1.800.WHISTLER and whistler.com - Whistler's official source for visitor bookings and information. As the convention and visitors bureau for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Tourism Whistler represents more than 7,000 members who own, manage and operate properties or businesses on resort lands including hotels, restaurants, activity operators and retail shops.

Media can visit whistler.com/media for Whistler facts, media releases, story starters, local personality profiles and access to images and B-roll. To find out more about Tourism Whistler's Energy Management Strategy at the Whistler Conference Centre and other 'green' initiatives, visit our online media room and enter "sustainability" in the keyword search, or select the sustainability and nature category.

Media Contact

Patricia Westerholm
Manager, Corporate Communications
T: 604.938.2748
E: pwesterholm@tourismwhistler.com

W: www.whistler.com/media
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