Trade with Down Under looking up
Whistler a major destination for many Australians, and cultural ties also help exchange of goods
By Jim Morris, Special To The Sun November 13, 2013
For Australians seeking adventure, Whistler has become a prime Canadian destination. Whistler’s own Sue Adams, explains why so many Australians make their way to Whistler. Adams, who chairs the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and with her husband Bob operates The Grocery Store in Whistler Village, “Australians are adventurous and adaptable … way more than the Canadian kids…They are risk-takers and entrepreneurial.” Said Adams.
At the peak of the winter season, mountain operator Whistler Blackcomb employs about 3,600 people. Of those, up to 500 may be Australians on a temporary visa, according to Joel Chevalier, director of employee experience.
Besides filling a practical need, Australians also bring a special spirit to the resort. “They have a big, fun, friendly personality our guests enjoy working with. We tend to put our Australians in the very front line, guest-facing roles.” Chevalier believes both the staff and the mountain benefit. “Whistler would not be Whistler if we didn’t have a history with Australians coming to work here,” he said. “It adds a huge amount of flair.”
B.C.’s relationship with Australia extends beyond the friendly person serving you a pint at the end of a day on the slopes. British Columbia and Australia have a long history of doing business. When Australian sugar initially started coming into the Canadian market in the late 1880s, Vancouver was the first port of call. In 1895, John Short Larke became the first Canadian trade commissioner in Sydney.
Ask most B.C. residents about Australian goods coming into the province and they will probably think of wine. They may be surprised to learn that companies like COBS Bread and Flight Centre originated Down Under. Other Australian goods sold in B.C. include beef, lamb and even items like Tim Tam chocolate biscuits.