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Government report cites Games’ benefits

A Winter Olympics in B.C. could mean Olympic-sized financial benefits for the province according to a government report released Wednesday.

A Winter Olympics in B.C. could mean Olympic-sized financial benefits for the province according to a government report released Wednesday.

"We always knew the Olympic Winter Games would be a big economic generator and this really confirms it," said Sam Corea, media manager for the 2010 Vancouver Whistler Bid Corporation.

"It is why we are working so hard to produce a winning bid for a Winter Games that would provide a lasting economic and tourism benefit for the host communities, the region, the province and in fact the country."

It’s estimated the Games, combined with an expanded convention centre in Vancouver, could generate $5.7 billion to $10 billion in direct economic activity.

"Quite clearly we are encouraged by not just the report but by the benefits that will be associated with the Games," said Rod Harris, president and CEO of Tourism British Columbia.

"We are interested because we recognize that the tourism industry of all the players will be the one industry that enjoys the benefits leading up to the Games and for many years subsequent to them."

Up to a quarter-of-a-million direct and indirect jobs would also be created by a new convention centre and the Games, which would be held in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010.

The Canadian Olympic Association must submit the Vancouver-Whistler application to the International Olympic Committee by Feb. 4. A complete bid book will be submitted by the end of 2002. The IOC will select the host city for the 2010 Games in July of 2003.

Most of the long-term employment gains would be in the construction and tourism sectors. It’s estimated that the Games alone would generate 59,000 to 106,000 person-years of employment.

Between $1.3 billion and $2.5 billion is expected in total tax revenues from the Games.

The Bid Corporation hopes to make $100 million when all is said and done.

The Games will also provide sports legacies such as community arenas and sporting venues.

The report stresses there will be greater benefits if everyone involved in getting the Games works together in promoting the province and the Games.

"The ultimate economic impact of the Games will depend largely on how successfully British Columbia and its tourism industry converts that international exposure into new visitors before, during, and after the Games," states the report, prepared by the Ministry of Competition, Science, and Enterprise.

It points to other big events, such as Expo 86, as examples of how much money B.C. can make.

In the 14 years before Expo 86 B.C.’s share of total international visitors in Canada was between 9.5 per cent and 11.6 per cent. During Expo 86 this rose to more than 17 per cent. Since then it has increased every year from 12 per cent in 1987 to 17.4 per cent in 2000.

International tourism in Norway increased by 43 per cent between 1990 and 1994 leading up to the Winter Games in Lillehammer, most likely as a result of increased media awareness generated by the upcoming Games.

It’s likely hosting the Games would also impact the convention business. According to the report, "Sydney... increased its convention bid win average by 34 per cent following its selection in 1993 to host the 2000 Games.

"Barcelona experienced a 29 per cent increase in international delegates in the immediate post-Games year and achieved a 21 per cent annual compound growth in international delegates in the six years following the 1992 Games."

The report goes on to state that Vancouver could only expect to see such an increase if it built the new convention centre in which the 2010 Bid Corporation hopes to house the more than 7,000 national and international media representatives.

The greatest risks to a successful games states the report are:

• A prolonged recession in the United States.

• Foreign exchange rate movement which may affect foreign-sourced sponsorship and broadcast revenues and foreign-sourced goods and services which are usually negotiated in U.S. dollars.

• The re-negotiation of broadcast and sponsorship agreements which expire with the 2008 Games.

• Any interruption of the Games due to terrorism, boycott or sabotage.

• The fall out of Sept. 11.

• Changing demographics which may affect ticket buying and the media audience.

• Weather and earthquakes.

• Sponsorship. Given the small number of head office operations in B.C. for national corporations, most of the sponsorship revenue will have to be captured outside the province.