Another look at tourism
I was up at Whistler this week. I posted about it just over 3 years ago. At that time it was still booming even though the market had crashed and we had the Olympics coming.
Well, tourism has been bad since the Olympics, and in order to cover costs they've jacked the prices up so local skiing is also way down. My sister's partner has had many weeks where he only instructed one day per week over the last couple years.
The other thing the Olympics did was it completely wiped out the high end real estate market. Since my post Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) did the the same kind of stupid thing Freddie and Fanny did, made lending standards utterly stupid, insured mortgages and transfered the risk to taxpayers. That has solidified the Vancouver housing market; I'd say it is up about 10% since I sold 3.5 years ago, but the Whistler high end market is down about 1/3rd despite the CMHC change. What is different about Whistler is the huge amount of housing that went in prior to the Olympics to ensure there was enough housing for the Olympics. It has pushed the medium range real estate there down about 15-20% and rents have come down. Rents are up in Vancouver.
The higher vacancy in Whistler does mean that there are deals to be had on accommodations, which can offset some of currency exchange costs, and it certainly is a better time for skiing when there are less crowds. I don't think the extra cost for tickets is a big issue for tourism when you are looking at flights, accommodations, currency conversion and food. It is probably less then 1% of the cost for tourists, however, the cost is up considerably for local people when you add in massive increases for parking and gas. Parking used to be free and now it is about $10; it probably costs an extra $10 to get there and the ticket price is up about $10-15. That is a pretty big increase in cost for a local activity.
I also have a friend with a low end condo in Whistler that he has listed for about 10% less then he paid and the primary reason for selling is the lack of rentals. I'd say Whistler is very good to put on your watch list if your investment plans included a vacation property at a world class ski resort. I've skiied about a dozen mountains and they all pale to Whistler, so I do highly recommend a Whistler vacation if you love to ski.