Whistler is a unique real estate market, to say the least.
Aside from understanding the characteristics of our various neighbourhoods and property types, there is an entire vocabulary that is specific to the Whistler market. Local agents are fluent in terms such as “Phase I” and “Phase II”, “Tourism Whistler Fees”, “GST applicable”, and the like. (This is why it pays to have an experienced local expert on your side!)
This post is all about the Tourism Whistler fee. Some – but not all – Whistler property owners may have to pay this annual fee, but many do so without knowing exactly what it is. Prospective buyers might see it pop up in listing details as “TW Fees”, but may not be certain of what it entails.
Nobody likes paying extra fees, so lets look at what the Tourism Whistler Fee consists of and why certain property owners need to pay it.
Tourism Whistler – What Is It?
In Tourism Whistler’s own words, “Tourism Whistler is a not-for-profit, member based marketing and sales organization, representing more than 7,000 members who own, manage, and operate properties and/or businesses on Resort Land in Whistler.”
In other words, Tourism Whistler is a collective of Whistler homeowners and business people with a mission to promote Whistler as the BEST year-round mountain resort destination. Through marketing initiatives, Tourism Whistler advertises and promotes the resort, enticing people from around the world to come visit. You might be familiar with some of their initiatives, which include the Whistler Golf Club, Whistler.com, the Whistler Visitor Centre, and the Whistler Conference Centre.
How Do Members Benefit?
So why would a Whistler homeowner care about how Whistler is promoted to the greater public?
Here’s why: if your Whistler property is available for short-term rentals, you probably care about filling it with renters. Tourism Whistler does a lot of the work for you. They convince people to come visit Whistler; in turn, these people need a place to stay while they’re visiting, and they book several nights in your Whistler property.
Tourism Whistler’s initiatives translate to higher rental rates, fewer vacancies, and a more consistent, year-round occupation of your Whistler rental property.
Am I a Member?
Not all Whistler property owners are members of Tourism Whistler.
Properties belonging to Tourism Whistler are located within a designated area known as “Resort Lands” (click here to see a PDF that outlines which properties are included in this designation) , primarily situated around the Whistler Village area, as per the Resort Municipality of Whistler Act (1975).
Many of the properties that fall within the Resort Lands have covenants on title that ensure that these units are made available to tourists who come to visit Whistler.
If your property is located near Whistler Village and you are allowed to rent it out on a nightly basis, then you’re probably a member of Tourism Whistler. Another sure way to determine whether or not you belong: if you’re charged an annual Tourism Whistler fee, then you are, indeed, a member.
Follow this chart and find out if your property is on resort land:
How Much Is the Fee?
The Tourism Whistler Fee is charged annually, and varies from property to property based on two factors: the number of billing units and usage.
Without getting overly technical, “billing units” (another instance of Whistler lingo!) refers to how many people can sleep in a given property. A bedroom counts as two units; so does a sofa bed in a living room. You can get additional information by contacting Tourism Whistler directly, but the basic idea is that property owners pay for each billing unit in their property. The more people your property can accommodate, the higher your fee.
Usage is another important factor: if you use your unit solely for personal use, or if you rent your unit out to a long-term Whistler resident, you may be able to pay a reduced Tourism Whistler fee. This makes sense, since you will benefit less from Tourism Whistler’s initiatives than someone who rents their property out nightly to tourists.
Finally, there are additional specifications for commercial units, which can get a little complicated. Again, more details can be obtained by contacting Tourism Whistler – or you can contact me to gain more insight.