One of the chief selling points of the 2010 Games in the 10 years since Vancouver and Whistler won the Canadian rights to bid for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games has always been the international exposure the Games would bring to the province, and the boost it would provide to tourism, conference business, and industry.
With the Beijing Games wrapping up and the Vancouver Games next on the calendar, Tourism Whistler says that exposure is now a reality — the media is on its way and is looking for stories in the buildup to 2010.
TW recently sent a three-person delegation to Beijing to make contact with international media representatives and Olympic sponsors, help the Vancouver Organizing Committee promote the 2010 Games, and get a sense of how the resort can capitalize on the opportunities.
The main message that TW took away was that the media and sponsors tend to focus on the next Olympics, and that coverage of Vancouver and Whistler is about to ramp up. And while a lot of the focus is on the Games and athletes there is a lot of opportunity to promote the host communities as destinations.
“We’re already starting to see a big jump in the amount of coverage we’re getting, and we’re also encouraged by what we’re seeing in terms of who is doing the coverage, groups that haven’t had a large presence here like BBC and NBC,” said Casey Vanden Heuvel, director of communications at TW. “We’re also encouraged by the stories that they’re interested in covering. They want people stories and human interest, and the people of Whistler are a great subject and one of our strengths. They want to know more about the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, and stories about First Nations, and we’re in a great position to give them those stories.
“In China, where they have 5,000 years of history, they decided instead to focus on the here and now and focus less on the past,” he added. “They wanted to show the world that they’ve arrived, and how modern they are, so it was a bit of a coming out party for them on the world stage.
“For us, the opportunity is to show that while we’re still quite young we do have this history. We have these young athletes that are going to be competing here on their home turf. There are some great stories to tell the world.”
Tourism Whistler is working with Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Richmond, Tourism B.C. and the Canadian Tourism Commission to present a unified front when dealing with international media and telling the Games story. They recently launched a website at www.destination2010.ca that includes photos, video, story leads, Games facts, and the history of host communities, and promoted the site to media groups at Beijing.