The Festivals, Events and Animation (FE&A) program is a major annual initiative designed to attract visitors to Whistler and to enhance the visitor experience through the development and production of a wide range of festivals, events and entertainment for an equally wide range of target groups.
An ongoing strategic planning process is in place — involving many resort partners — to review research, identify opportunities and make decisions on the best way to invest FE&A funds on behalf of the resort community.
The RMOW also works with event producers who are interested in putting on an event in Whistler.
How is the program funded?
Funding for the FE&A Program is provided by the Province of British Columbia's Municipal and Regional District Tax.
MRDT – also known as Hotel Tax – applies to short-term tourist accommodation, including hotel rooms. This hotel tax is in addition to the eight per cent Provincial Sales Tax (PST).
In Whistler, MRDT revenues are received by the RMOW and shared with Tourism Whistler based on a number of agreements. Revenues are reinvested by both organizations on behalf of the community. Expenditures are approved by, and reported back to, the Province to ensure ongoing alignment with the prescribed purposes of the tax as outlined in the Provincial Sales Tax Act.
MRDT (along with the Resort Municipality Initiative) has been critical for Whistler to supplement property tax revenues and ensure a revenue stream directly from, and reinvested back into, the tourism economy.
The FE&A program encompasses three main components.
- Original programming. Examples include New Year's Eve celebrations, GO Fest, the Whistler Presents Outdoor Concert Series and more.
- Animation programming. Examples include Street Entertainment, Family Apres, Snow Zone and more.
- Attract, Retain and Augment (ARA) programming for third-party events.
In 2019, the RMOW invested in the following events through the ARA component:
- Whistler Pride & Ski Festival - $25,000
- World Ski & Snowboard Festival - $170,000
- Whistler Half Marathon - $14,000
- Tough Mudder & Tough Mudder Half - $100,000
- Whistler Children’s Festival - $22,500
- IRONMAN Canada and 70.3 Canada - $282,000
- RBC GranFondo Whistler - $30,000
- Whistler Village Beer Festival - $15,000
- Whistler Writers Festival - $18,750
- Whistler 50 Relay & Ultra - $12,000
- Cornucopia - $36,000
- Whistler Film Festival - $45,000
How are decisions made?
The FE&A Program is ultimately overseen by Whistler Council with input and oversight by several committees of council including the FE&A Oversight Committee.