While Beijing may have officially passed the Summer Games torch to London, England, the attention of the worldwide media and Olympic sponsors will be directed a little further west to Vancouver and Whistler.
Tourism Whistler has been working with partners at Tourism Vancouver, Tourism B.C. and the Canadian Tourism Commission to market the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games and work with international media over the next 18 months.
Arlene Schieven, vice president of marketing for Tourism Whistler, represented the resort in the 2010 Tourism Consortium and says that Whistler can expect a lot of international attention after Beijing.
“The biggest change for us after Beijing is working with broadcasters and the media,” she said. “Everyone there has already told us they will soon be turning their full attention to Whistler and Vancouver, which is when we can really start to capitalize on the opportunity.”
There are 11 different strategies in the plan put together by the consortium, says Schieven, many of which will be announced in the coming weeks and months. A wider launch is expected that will include provincial and federal governments, and that will spell out some of the details of the different strategies.
One example is a kiosk program for Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler that would have the same appearance and would work co-operatively to promote the Games. Tourism B.C. will fund the kiosks, but will also look for sponsorship to help cover costs.
Another example is the launch of a new website, www.destinationbc.ca that will tell the story of Canada, Vancouver and Whistler to foreign journalists. By collaborating on the website, the consortium eliminates the need for each member to tell the story themselves, while ensuring the message and presentation is consistent.
A world press briefing for print media will also be held in November to introduce journalists to Whistler, and members of the press will be encouraged to stay longer and experience the resort. That event alone is expected to generate a lot of media coverage of Vancouver and Whistler, the Olympic venues, and other public interest stories related to the Games.
“The planning is fairly detailed in terms of what tourism bodies can control. Things are underway within VANOC that will determine the look of the Games inside the fences, but our job is more to maximize the tourism opportunity around everything that’s happening,” said Schieven. “For example, the sports events and World Cups that are taking place before the Games will attract a lot of media, and we can leverage that for tourism gains.
“There’s also a myth out there that people tend to stay away from Olympic destinations before a Games because they think they’re under construction, but we want to let people know that everything is done, all of our venues are now complete, and open to the public.”