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Kelowna  

Big White jam packed but...

Big White Ski Resort had two of the busiest days in its history this weekend.

But it still wasn't enough to bring a smile to the face of senior vice-president Michael J. Ballingall.

Ballingall says the Family Day long weekend saw the third, and fourth busiest days in the mountain's history, however, moving it to coincide with other holiday weekends across the country will actually cost the hill money.

And, he believes it's the same at other ski hills across the province.

"We are only one per cent up compared to this weekend last year, and last weekend we were 35 per cent down," Ballingall said Monday.

"From the economics point of view, it really hurt all B.C. ski hills to move it, because you only have so many beds on the mountain. The disadvantage has been there just isn't any room at the inn for people from B.C. who want to go to their local mountain."

He says 54 per cent of people on the hill this weekend were from south of the border, where it's the President's Day weekend. Only 27 per cent were from B.C.

Last year, when the Family Day weekend was the second weekend in February, he says 84 per cent of people on the hill were from B.C.

This is the first year the holiday has been moved to coincide with holidays weekends in other parts of the country.

Ballingall says while he respects the argument the holiday is about people getting together, it's just not true in the larger picture. He says the average person isn't travelling in winter like they would during holiday weekends in the summer.

"The thing that resonates with us is, if the goal is to give B.C. the greatest advantage to get together with family, then the evidence will clearly show the second week is it.

"Even though people have the argument that my family came from Alberta or Ontario, in the greatest numbers, they didn't. The greatest number is single families getting together with family that live in British Columbia, and they want to go somewhere."

Ballingall says that message will be delivered loud and clear when the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association meets this week. The chairman and CEO of Destination BC will be at that meeting.

"My big argument has always been if you want to give the average Joe Six-Pack a chance to play, then the second weekend is the one because it's more affordable and there's more space.

"The third weekend is the most expensive weekend of the year, and there's not as much space."



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