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Economic Impact of the Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games

News Release
January 16, 2002


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The Economic Impact of the Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games

IX. The Current State of the Input Data

The reliability of the outputs from this model will improve as the cost and visitor data is refined. This will be an iterative process as capital decisions, schedules, locations and programs are crystallised by the VW2010 office and as the actual results of the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City unfold.

Pending these events, we have primed the model using the best available data from the VW2010 office. It is important to note at this stage that the cost estimates are and will remain preliminary pending, confirmation of sites and verification of costs at those sites.

We have also used a preliminary schedule of capital spending which has all Games facilities completed and open by the end of 2008 to allow for testing, national team trials, World Championship events and practice sessions in 2009. Salt Lake scheduled 13 World events and three national team trials in its pre-Olympics year.

Staging the Olympic Games involves an extensive construction program. It must be noted that the incremental economic benefits are maximised with an orderly construction schedule which takes into account other projects such as the proposed Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre expansion project, a 48-month program in itself, and major, on-going highways improvements in order to minimise cost pressures in the construction sector. If imported construction labour is required, the economic impact will be reduced to the extent those workers spend their income outside the province.

With respect to tourism, we have primed the model with estimates of potential tourism demand based on six growth scenarios. These scenarios reflect the tourism growth profiles (the pattern of growth, not the actual rate of growth) observed or expected from other hallmark events including other summer and winter Games and Expo 86 as well as our own estimates.

All of these scenarios result in economic impacts that fall within the range described by the summary tables presented below. The resulting bracketing of impacts defines a range of possible incremental impacts of the 2010 Games. Four of the six scenarios envisage tourism impacts starting in 2007 and ending in 2015, one scenario assumes tourism impacts beginning as early as 2002 and ending in 2015. The sixth scenario begins in 2002 and ends in 2020. The tourism impacts are not necessarily limited to that period. Arguably the tourism industry has been surfing on the crest of the wave created by Expo 86 ever since but as we move further away from the event year it becomes increasingly difficult to isolate the continuing event impacts from other more recent events that may have influenced tourism patterns.

These six tourism growth profiles result in cumulative incremental foreign tourism volume gains, relative to the foreign visitor volume in year 2000, ranging from a low of 0.33 million additional visitors under the Low Effort/Low Response scenario to a high of about 3.7 million additional visitors under the Best Effort/Best Response scenario. The incremental visitors are calculated as the difference between the base year (2000) total and the current year. Hence, if the base year total is 100 and the next three years' totals are 110, 105, 115, the cumulative incremental gain amount to 30. The nomenclature Low, Average, Better and Best is used to reflect the cumulative outcome of the scenario, not the starting point, end point or peak growth rate of the scenario.

Five of these growth profiles assume the international awareness of British Columbia created by the Games exposure fades out after 2015. The sixth scenario (Best Effort/Best Response), assumes the marketing impact is sufficiently broad and deep as to permanently raise international awareness of British Columbia as a tourism destination. To put these projected gains in perspective, incremental foreign tourism visits to British Columbia rose about 2.8 million in the Expo 86 year alone compared to the immediate pre-Expo year, 1985. During the first five post-Expo years, 1987 - 1991, the cumulative incremental gains, excluding the Expo year, amounted to about 4.1 million foreign visitors relative to the 1985 level. In the first 10 post-Expo years the cumulative incremental gain was 13.6 million foreign visitors.

This first chart plots the four growth profiles used in the summary tables below. As explained above, the plotted points represent incremental growth relative to the base year 2000. For example, the Best Effort scenario peaks in 2010 at about 500,000 more visitors in that year than British Columbia received in 2000.

Again, to put these growth scenarios into some historical context in terms of the scale of the tourism impacts considered in this Games evaluation, the chart on the left presents the actual incremental foreign visitor profile surrounding Expo 86 overlaid on the visitor profile scenarios used for impact of the 2010 Games.

The table below provides the actual incremental rates used in the four tourism profiles described above. As described elsewhere, the calculation represents the additional foreign visitors expected to be attracted to the province in a given year by the Games-related exposure, relative to the base value in year 2000.

In 2000, British Columbia attracted 8,481,727 foreign visitors. Hence a 2% increment under the Average Effort scenario for 2008 would represent 2% of the year 2000 base, or about 169,634 additional visitors.

Finally, as the table illustrates, the Low Effort scenario represents the lowest cumulative impact at 11.01% while the Best Effort represents the highest cumulative impact at 43.5%.


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