Games stimulated growth and opened the door to increased tourism
Richmond, BC, Canada (February 7, 2014) - Four years after the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the legacies carry on vibrantly in the former Venue City Richmond, BC, home of the iconic Richmond Olympic Oval and long track speed skating events. The flourishing city of over 200,000 residents captured the world's attention during the Games and has built on that momentum post-Games to truly reap the benefits of being on the world stage, not least of which is the impact the Games have had on tourism.
"As the Venue City for the Olympic Games it opened the door to increased opportunities for Richmond to become a viable tourism and group business destination," said Tracy Lakeman, CEO of Tourism Richmond. "As the city's Destination Marketing Organization, it was our role to leverage that moment to show the best of Richmond to potential tourists from around the world through innovative programs and initiatives and set the stage for growth. From 2010 to today, we have averaged a four per cent increase in room night revenue. And, last summer during our high season from May to September we welcomed 1.9 million visitors."
Prior to 2010, Richmond was better known as a suburb of Vancouver than a travel destination in its own right. As British Columbia readied to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Tourism Richmond initiated
bold marketing and media relations initiatives that showcased the city's rich history, multiculturalism, industries, award-winning cuisine and diverse travel experiences. Tourism Richmond also partnered with individuals and organizations at home and abroad to increase its presence and participation on the world stage.
At the same time, the city underwent a mammoth makeover with $2.5 billion spent on construction projects to ensure Richmond properly welcomed the world in February 2010. The crown jewel of the Games, the $178 million Richmond Olympic Oval, transformed former industrial land into a spectacular multi-sport facility, one of the largest in the world. The Oval also drove the development of a new waterfront neighbourhood - River Green - a $2-billion, 140-acre luxury waterfront community that is expected to house 120,000 people over the next 10 to 12 years. The $1.9 billion Canada Line rapid transit system opened in August of 2009, making Richmond and Vancouver the first two Canadian cities to be linked to the airport by a rapid transit system. In addition to providing easy access to Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport (YVR), the much-anticipated Canada Line increased access to visitors during and since the Games and triggered $2.5 billion in new high-density residential buildings constructed in the City Centre within walking distance of the Canada Line.
On February 28, 2010, in his speech officially closing the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, IOC President Jacques Rogge extended a sincere thank you to "the cities of Vancouver, Whistler and Richmond." Richmond was officially on the world's radar.
Times Have Changed
In the four years since, Richmond has not only become an exciting West Coast tourism and travel destination, with tourism now contributing well over $650 million to the city's economy, it is also an increasingly popular locale for meetings and events. In 2013 alone, Tourism Richmond was successful in doubling convention business opportunities over the previous year. The city's post-Games prosperity proves that Richmond has been able to turn a 16-day sporting event into a long-term strategy for tourism growth. Tourism Richmond capitalized on the international visibility of the Games and the increased interest in culinary tourism by launching an innovative marketing and public relations campaign - the multiaward winning 365 Days of Dining campaign. Following a global search, the ground-breaking concept was to convey Richmond's story through food by hiring a salaried blogger to eat at 365 eateries in 365 consecutive days and blogging at www.365daysofdining.com from June 2012 to June 2013.
2014 & Beyond
The growth of the tourism industry also owes much to the infrastructural improvements that were made ahead of the 2010 Games, including the Richmond Olympic Oval and the Olympic-triggered Canada Line, which has allowed Richmond's famed eateries and attractions to become more easily accessible to visitors. All sectors of the tourism industry - from hotels and restaurants to shops and attractions - have reported a significant boost to business as the Canada Line provides increased accessibility and invites more locals and visitors to explore Richmond.
Arguably the most successful post-Olympic venue from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the Richmond Olympic Oval remains fully functional, open to everyone from elite athletes to visitors lacing up skates for the first time. The Oval continues to host world-class sporting events and is home to several sport centres of sporting excellence. Coming soon to the Oval is the $5.7 million Richmond Olympic Experience which will open in late 2014, offering an inspiring, interactive journey celebrating the Olympic spirit and telling the story of sport in Richmond. It will be North America's only member of the International Olympic Museums Network and will feature three floors of gallery space and include displays, interactive media, and hands-on sporting simulations.
About Tourism Richmond
Tourism Richmond is a non-profit, membership driven destination marketing organization (DMO) whose primary mandate is to enhance awareness about the destination through sales and marketing initiatives and by providing excellent visitor and member services. Ultimately, Tourism Richmond's goal is to increase economic wealth related to tourism for the City of Richmond and all stakeholders. Tourism Richmond is British Columbia's fourth largest DMO and a former Venue City for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. For more information, visit www.tourismrichmond.com.
Director of Communications