Virginia Greene: 2010 Olympics will be biggest advertisement ever for B.C.

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      By Virginia Greene

      If you’re old enough to remember Expo 86, you’ll understand why many community and business leaders are excited about the long-term value of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. If you’re not old enough to remember, keep reading because you might just get a sense of what’s to come in 2010 and beyond. Opened in May 1986, Expo 86 ended six months later with some 22,111,578 visits. By any measure, it was a great success and raised the bar for every world’s fair that followed.

      During Expo 86, I worked for the B.C. Ministry of Tourism and was responsible for marketing our province’s tourism brand to the world. With leadership and direction from then premier Bill Bennett and key ministers, we made sure that Expo 86 was a launching pad, not a landing pad.

      Like Expo 86, the 2010 Games will provide a unique international platform for Vancouver, Whistler, and the rest of British Columbia. With 10,000 media and an international television audience in the billions, the Games will be British Columbia’s biggest advertisement ever. Yes, I understand there are some who never wanted the Games in the first place. Certainly not all British Columbians welcomed Expo 86. But, when the Olympics get underway in February, I am convinced it will ignite the same kind of community spirit and pride that we saw during Expo 86.

      More than just a “party” or a “celebration of sport”, the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are a business opportunity for all of us. It’s a chance to reinforce our brand to the world. It’s also an opportunity to tell travelers why they should come back and visit the rest of B.C. after 2010.

      In so many ways, the Games are a calling card for this province. They will offer up a wide variety of trade, tourism, and investment platforms. They’re a chance for business and government to work together to introduce current and future customers and investors to our “Super, Natural” scenery, innovative technologies, green-energy capabilities, and value-added forest products.

      It may be almost a quarter-century since we hosted Expo 86, but can anyone really claim that the spin-offs weren’t worth the time and effort? Expo gave us SkyTrain, the redevelopment of False Creek, the Vancouver Convention Centre and Canada Place, and an international promotional shot-in-the-arm that lasted for years.

      I expect that same international attention from the 2010 Games. We should aim to whet the world’s appetite to visit after they’ve seen our people and scenery on every television station and newspaper on the planet.

      Frankly, the big challenge isn’t staging the Games. It is making sure that we’ve got a marketing plan that kicks off after 2010 and allows us to take advantage of the incredible B.C. brand awareness generated by the Games. Expo and the Olympics may be a generation apart, but this new generation knows the value of going global when it comes to our tourism and business prospects. So, like every British Columbian, I’m hoping for a gold-medal performance as we get ready to welcome the world—again!

      Virginia Greene is president and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia.

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      14 Comments

      glen p robbins

      Jan 11, 2010 at 4:13pm

      I understand the principle thesis here--the World coming to Vancouver--for Expo '86---then 2010 Olympics--there are as many differences between these two events as similarities. Expo was BC focused and Vancouver centred, the 2010 Olympics is Canada focused and Vancouver/Richmond/Whistler centred. Expo is a longer run more spring summer event, while Vancouver is a short run winter event. Expo was a long time ago. I expect the 2010 Olympics will bring the attention of the World to Vancouver, (save possibly for much of the United States which has a Super Bowl lead in and some major political events (ie health care) over the same period of time (and who was excluded from 2 attempts at Olympics--from a European sourced event. Canada's successes and/or failures athletically will underscore how we come together as Canadians--however whether or not the Olympics "whets one's (sic) appetite to visit", or how we are perceived Internationally may or may not leave a positive impression with visitors once they have been here. Ms. Greene is a BC Liberal--her position on the council likely linked to her association with that government. I am concerned that the policies of both she and her government may provide the International press as much fodder for criticism--beyond the two week containment of the Olympic 'coverage'.
      If Ms. Greene believes that the Olympics alone will make for great things-I believe she is being short sighted in the extreme. The 2010 Olympics will only provide a beginning of potential opportunities to prove Vancouver (BC) is an International player. The gross indecencies of the Campbell BC Liberal government--shabby to pathetic/phony environmental and poverty policy may take away from these anticipated opportunities.

      George Pising

      Jan 11, 2010 at 6:03pm

      Why is it a good thing to advertise BC? Expo showed the world that Vancouver existed, and turned it into a "big city", but the locals didn't know how to deal with that and still like to think of it as a smallish town.
      What people outside of Vancouver know of Vancouver is "BC bud" (laced with LSD and coke by the way, that's why it's so desirable), and the beautiful scenery. That's it.
      All the Olympics will really do is make it harder to move around (there's already test road closures that has caused tonnes of problems, and VANOC ads telling inhabitants to find other modes of transportation such as buses to go downtown. Then we see news stories that Translink says that they'll be overwhelmed by people). How is this good for the city? If I owned a hotel or restaurant, then sure, it's good for me. Other than that, it's not good for anyone.

      really?

      Jan 11, 2010 at 8:04pm

      Do we really want the world to see how BC has deteriorated since Expo 86? You now have to look a lot further to find anything 'Super' or 'Natural'. Let's hope the visitors don't drive down E. Hastings, get tazered by the RCMP, hear about the ruin of the river developments, or notice the unsightly suburban sprawl over former ALR lands.

      glen p robbins

      Jan 11, 2010 at 9:28pm

      I am cheering for Canada and hoping we win the highest number of medals of any country including at least (3) Gold. It is a very high standard--however I thought we looked very good in Italy.

      The media should have Michael Buble everywhere. He is Sinatra 2010. "Haven't met you yet" --song of the year (GPR).

      Get Buble and other great music--who is playing where?--is the Straight going to cover this? Competitive sports and great music go hand in hand.

      I also hope protestors are evident. Everyone civil---but freedom of speech no matter the event---because it is a continuing right--while the Olympics is not a continuing event (in the day to day sense of that).

      miguel

      Jan 12, 2010 at 7:20am

      This isn't news to many of us, we knew it wasn't about sports.

      The event is meant to draw investment to develop the transportation infrastructure linked to the port to entice the booming Chinese and Indian market. The Anglo-American economic system is never going to be the same and our port may become the major west coast hub for material traffic from Asia.
      Miguel

      Davido

      Jan 12, 2010 at 7:32am

      it's a well known fact that expo 86 did nothing for vancouver.
      the only reason asian capital moved into vancouver was because of pattison family pushing the government to open the flootgates to people from hong kong when it was return to china and the uk had said they didn't want any people from hong kong coming to the uk so they had to go somewhere and pattison family figured they could make a quick buck that way. and so it happened. if anyting all this resulted in sky rocketing real estate prices, rents being pushed up so people could no longer afford to live in the downtown, wages went way down by up to 30% plus a whole bunch of people moved to vancouver when the economy could not absorb any of them workwise resulting in low wage competition for canadian workers who saw their decent salaries being reduced to crappy salaries, who saw their affordable apartment in downtown vancouver replaced by a cheap apartment in east vancouver or burnaby. expo 86 brought nothing but misery for the people of bc and the olympics will be no different.
      we're told that tourists/visitors are expected to spend $900 million during the games. big deal with the multi billion dollars spent on it. you still run a huge deficit. remember the summer games in greece? yep an 8 billion euro deficit from the olympics alone and the other eu countries had to bail them out for 8 billion euro's

      P T Barnum

      Jan 12, 2010 at 4:29pm

      Roll up, roll up. We have something for everyone. Some will make wads of cash and others will attend ritzy parties. Those at the bottom of the heap will enjoy a televised circus for a couple of weeks. Step right his way friends, because you voted for it. And for when the bill arrives, let me tell you about my hangover cure...

      Bob w

      Jan 12, 2010 at 10:48pm

      The long term values of Expo 86 only resulted in many new people coming here without any regard for Vancouver or BC. Mostly rich immigrants on Canadian passports of convenience. Our first clue was when Li Kashing built the very first High-rise on Concord property and didn't even bother to offer anyone in Vancouver a chance to buy an apartment, they were ONLY advertised in Hong Kong. That is the kind of people we got from Expo 86.

      Dean Learner

      Jan 13, 2010 at 1:34am

      "The world" will come to Vancouver and see just how bad the city is run by the excuse of a mayor and city council. They'll be blocked by Critical Mass cyclists while they try and travel the city, and wonder why the police are escorting them.
      They'll be amazed at the lack of turnstiles at the skytrain and use them more than expected, causing people who are just trying to get to work huge delays.
      They'll drive down east hastings and wonder how the city's mayor and council can let this type of thing happen. They'll travel through downtown and see a homeless person literally on every block. How, oh how, was this allowed to happen, oh mayor?! I'm on my way to the post office to post a letter to you right now, oh no I can't, your police force is escorting bikers through red lights and stopsigns, blocking me.

      miguel

      Jan 14, 2010 at 8:39am

      The lady is right about the advertising potential of the olympics. It's just that it will be a showcase for global warming. Spring is here; who wants to go picking flowers?
      Miguel