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“It is all about awareness, trial, and repeat (visitation),” said Fisher.
“That is the formula…. (The Games are) helping build the awareness piece, it is our job to push the trial piece and when we give them wonderful service and an amazing experience that is the piece of the equation which turns them into repeat visitors.”
The AG’s report made headlines last week, even sparking a call for the firing of VANOC CEO John Furlong, after it stated that the Games would cost taxpayers $2.5 billion, suggested the possibility of more construction delays, more cost escalation, and criticized a decision not to hedge U.S. dollar revenues for the Games. That decision may have cost taxpayers $150 million US thanks to the greenback’s fall against the Canadian dollar.
Part of the increase in the Games’ cost comes form the AG’s decision to include the cost of upgrades to the Sea To Sky Highway and other roads in the accounting, as well as the budget of the province’s Olympic Secretariat, the Live Sites program, Own the Podium and several other factors.
Furlong admits he found this discouraging.
“One of the frustrations for us is that quite a lot of stuff gets grouped in with what we are doing and really our job is to communicate what we are responsible for,” he said.
“We have absolutely no problem being held accountable for the work that we are doing, we welcome it, we want people to know what we are doing.
“My job is to deliver the Games and to be focused absolutely on two key things, one is to build these venues for the budget that we have… (and) the second thing is to manage the operations of the Games and that is to basically make the preparations to stage the Games. These are the only things that VANOC has in its mandate.”
Both the federal and provincial governments have expressed confidence in Furlong and the VANOC team.
A Mustel Group poll this week found that most British Columbians (78 per cent) expect the Games to go over budget, but many (55 per cent) would rather see the government spend more money to cover escalating costs instead of cutting back on venues.