Bid Corp seeking rooms for 2010 

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There have also been discussions about doing a unique design with Whistler-Blackcomb.

But in order to take full advantage of the sales opportunities, Whistler needs to make its branding more consistent by using the word "Whistler" everywhere, said Wright.

"Whistler is a souvenir market," he said.

"It's a key area from a sales perspective."

Whistler, a souvenir shopper's haven, can capitalize on this demand for Olympic paraphernalia.

Sales in Salt Lake City may have been down due to lost branding opportunities, said Wright.

Many souvenirs had different venue names tattooed across them instead of just Salt Lake City.

"They could have reinforced the brand better," said John Nadeau, chair of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce who went to Salt Lake City after the Games to study the economic impact to the area.

Merchandise sales may have also been lost due to long lineups and waits of up to five hours during the 2002 Winter Games.

"Some of the lines snaked for half a mile because they wanted to take something home," said Wright.

"You gotta think that they lost a lot of sales."

As far as the 2010 financial impact to the average Whistler resident, Wright pointed out there will be no local tax burden as a direct result of the Games.

The operating costs run around $1.2 billion, all of which will be funded by the private sector.

The IOC will kick in roughly $750 million from broadcasting rights, ticket sales, high-level sponsorship and other sources. That means that $500 million must be raised in the domestic marketplace through national and local sponsorship.

Wright doesn't think this will present too much of a problem.

Salt Lake City received $660 million Cdn in TV fees and managed to raise $800 million in the domestic marketplace.

"The power of the Olympics still manages to stagger people in what it can achieve," he said.

Despite all the new information presented at the meeting, it was an old topic which raised the most concern – Highway 99.

With rumours swirling about long delays over a four-year period, there are major concerns about the proposed upgrades.

"There is a real concern that it is going to be a devastating impact on this community," said Councillor Nick Davies, chairman of the Olympic Bid Committee for the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

But Wright argued that the road has to be fixed regardless of whether the Olympics come to Whistler or not.

"That road can't be built for the Olympics," said Wright.

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