Hansen warns people not to gouge in 2010 

The Olympics and Paralympic Games are no time to gouge and make visitors think that Whistler and B.C. are too expensive to visit or invest in.

“I think that very few people have profited from gouging in the long run,” said Colin Hansen, the provincial minister responsible for the 2010 Olympics, following a Whistler Chamber of Commerce luncheon this week.

“One of the things that I have a real concern about as we countdown to 2010, and I hear it in Vancouver and I hear it in Whistler and I hear it in other parts of the province, and it is people saying I am going to make a lot of money on February 2010.”

That’s not a message Hansen wants the world to be focusing on.

Instead he said it should be, “that this is a great destination. This is a great place to come in 2009, 2011, and 2012. It is great value for your tourism dollar and it is a great place to invest.”

Hansen also pointed to lessons from past Olympics where people who tried to cash in on the Games were left empty handed come Games time.

“In the real world, in the experience of previous Olympic Games (gougers), get left holding the can with nothing in it,” he said.

I have no doubt that there will be lots of anecdotal stories, lots of which will be true of price gouging… but I think this is a marketing opportunity for all of us and we want to send a message that this is a great place to come back to and to bring their families.”

Hansen said the government is already making sure that B.C. is ready to welcome the more than 12,000 journalists who will be descending on the province to cover the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Camera crews are scouring B.C. to find stories that show the entrepreneurial spirit and sheer splendour of the area as a destination, to give to media outlets that will be feeding stories to up to three billion television watchers globally.

It’s not the first time Victoria has done this. The province made high definition CDs available at the 2006 Torino Olympic Games.

“I was told by the vice president of NBC that in his view we did a better job in Italy of marketing British Columbia than Italy did marketing Italy during the 2006 Olympic Games,” said Hansen.

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