For the first time since 1988, Canada will be hosting the Winter Olympic Games once again in 2010. Taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia (and sharing some of the festivities with nearby Whistler), the Winter Olympics always mark an exciting time in Canada's sporting world. Expected to be a showcase of Canadian athletic prowess (especially in ice hockey where Team Canada looks to regain its gold medal status last achieved in 2002 at Salt Lake City), the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver is highly anticipated as an event where Canadian athletes will shine.
Returning to Canada since the '88 games were held in Calgary, Alberta, the Olympics also brings to the Great White North the hope for even greater prosperity in the financial world. With Canada not being immune to the struggling global economy, there is hope that the visitation of sports fans from all over the world to the Vancouver and Whistler areas will provide a surge in Canada's economic growth.
According to The Canadian Press, Paul Darby, the Conference Board of Canada's deputy chief economist, agrees that Canada, especially British Columbia, will experience “an Olympic effect”. As mentioned in an article published on July 8, 2009, Darby estimates that the Games “will drive growth in B.C. by about 3.3 per cent in 2010, more than any other province”.
He warns, however, that the positive effect of the Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler may only last for two to three years. Darby notes that “while the 2010 Games will provide an international showcase for Canada, and in particular the Vancouver area around the event, 'don't count on that advertising to last for 10 years'”. Others remain a bit more optimistic.
With the Winter Olympics providing a showcase for the incredible mountains and hills used for skiing in Vancouver and Whistler, there is hope that tourists worldwide will view the area as a top choice destination for participating in this exhilrating sport.
Ski resort owners in the area are especially hopeful since The Canadian Ski Council released statistics this month that show that “the number of skiers and snowboarders to hit Canadian slopes fell 10 per cent year-over-year to 18.4 million visitors, down from a record 20.5 million visitors in the 2007/08 season” citing “poor snow conditions, the recession and an aging population (as) some of the factors behind the recent drop”.
At the recent annual Canadian Ski Council conference in Whistler, Bill Jensen, the chief executive of Intrawest, owner of the 2010 Olympics venue Whistler Blackcomb, said that “the jury is out on whether we will experience…a longer-term sustained bump” in the ski industry's success due to the 2010 Winter Games.
Only time will tell, of course. But as Canadians from all over the country cheer on their athletic countrymen to boost their spirits this coming February, we should all hope a similar “boost” in our economy follows suit.
Stay tuned for more on this topic in the coming months leading up the Winter Olympic Games here on the Synergy Merchant Services Blog.