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Toward

a Destination Visitor Attendance Estimation Model: Whistler,


British Columbia, Canada.
Kell,J., Williams, P.W., Schieven, A., Dunn, I. (2006)

Reflection and critical discussion written by Lisa Hammertinger based on the article mentioned above.



Knowledge about a destinations visitor attendance is one of the key indicators for its
performance. Also it provides important information for the decision making and planning of
destination managers. As mentioned in the article, a reliable and exact estimation of visitor
attendance can be a very challenging task, especially in a destination that is ungated.
Tourism Whistler developed The Visitor Volume Model, which uses two main sources of
monthly data collection for the estimations. For a baseline estimate of the visitor volume,
information is collected from Tourism Whistlers Commercial Accommodation Survey (CAS).
Mentionable at this point is, that only 75% of all rooms that are available for nightly rental in
Whistler are participants of the CAS and only these accommodations provide their monthly
results. To represent and reflect the rest, the numbers are adjusted upward, which makes it
almost impossible to get exact numbers for the attendance estimation. Nonetheless this
information is very valuable for Whistlers accommodation sector, for example to compare
the results to previous years, which helps to get a better understanding for the destinations
performance in this field. The second source of data collection is visitor surveys. These are
conducted to track behavioural characteristics of footloose visitors in Whistler. Interviews
only take place at two different places in winter and at few different high-traffic places in
summer. These locations are chosen based on assumptions and the high degree of likelihood
that most of the tourists in Whistler visit these areas. Another weak point is that there are
only English-speaking interviewers operating. These two limitations create the risk of missing
out on valuable interview partners and consequently information for the survey. The
interviewees receive training from Whistler Tourism. Still mentionable is, that personal
interviews always are carried out by humans with individual characteristics this might bring
along the risk of influencing the interview results. The whole model is user-friendly and uses
simple Microsoft Excel software. Although this is very favourable for the managers using the
software, a more professional statistic program like SPSS could probably help to define
valuable cause-and-effect relationships in a more adequate way and also help to provide
more detailed consumer behaviour information. The model is very well applicable to track

trends, get an understanding of the destinations performance or assess the impact of


external events. A destination like Whistler that is to a larger extent centrally managed than
for example the typical Austrian ski resort with almost exclusively family-run, small
businesses, is probably able to introduce new plans or to apply new and innovative models
more easily than purely community-based destinations. (Beritelli, Bieger, & Laesser, 2007).
This model is very innovative and contributes to the existing knowledge about visitor
attendance estimations, but it might not be fully applicable to other destinations that dont
have the possibility to access the accommodations data that easily or that are not able to
provide the human or financial resources needed to carry out researches like the one at
hand.

References

Beritteli, P., Bieger, T., & Laesser, Ch. (2007). Destination Governance: Using Corporate
Governance Theories as a Foundation for Effective Destination Management. Journal of
Travel Research, 46 (1), pp. 96 107.

Kelly, J./Williams, P.W./Schieven, A./Dunn, I. (2006): Toward a destination Visitor
Attendance Estimation Model: Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Travel
Research, 44 (4), pp. 449 - 456