VIP travellers are already lining up to come to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
“It is already something they are planning and getting ready for,” said Mark Lewis, president of Jet Set Sports, the official supplier of packaged trips for 2010.
“The demand is higher for Vancouver because it is such a great host city.”
Lewis is speaking in Whistler on Jan. 29 at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon event as part of the RBC 2010 Legacies Now speaker series. (For tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Part of what makes Vancouver attractive, said Lewis, is the variety of things to do and see, and places to eat and have fun apart from the Games.
It is a diverse city with many cultures represented and that too makes it a popular destination for Olympic travelers.
“It is international and there is a lot of heritage that reflects the diversity, and that is a great thing when you are entertaining people from outside the country,” said Lewis
“There is a good reason Vancouver won.”
It is also the largest city to host a Winter Games.
“There is a power that comes with that,” said Lewis.
Jet Set Sports has already set up an office in Vancouver and is exploring what types of activities it will offer its guests outside of the ticketed Olympic sporting events.
For that reason, said Lewis, businesses should be thinking of what opportunities there are now and not leaving it until the last minute.
“By the end of this year they really need to have those plans identified and be starting to put them in place,” he said.
Jet Set clients who went to the Torino 2006 Winter Games, for example, went on tours of an Italian chocolate factory.
In 2010, Olympic visitors with Jet Set will stay in both Whistler and Vancouver but travel on at least one occasion to either destination for sporting events and recreation. That may include a half-day skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb.
Lewis said the two host communities are attractive to different client sets and that both would be popular.
“I think the demand will be very high,” he said of the resort.
“ I think Whistler is certainly a great destination… Our clients really have a choice and what we are seeing early on is that some people like the Alpine look and feel and some people like the city look and feel. But there is strong demand for each.
“We have some clients who are more European focused in their client mentality, so for them to be up there for the downhill event, to see the traditional alpine races, is exactly what they want to do and they love the village feel and the atmosphere of Whistler.”
Packages with the operator will go on sale once the Vancouver Organizing Committee offers tickets to the public in October.
Lewis also said that the province and the Vancouver Organizing Committee are being very successful in getting a buzz going about the Games in many markets.
And getting behind Canadian athletes with an eye to a successful medal count in 2010 is also a great strategy for making the Games more enjoyable for visitors said Lewis.
“When the host country is doing well the whole nation comes alive and the excitement is fun to be around,” he said.
Jet Set Sports, in conjunction with its affiliate Cosport, were unveiled as official supporters of the 2010 Games last March. The total sponsorship value was not revealed at the time but the second tier of sponsorship requires a minimum contribution of between $15 and $50 million.