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Increased tourism a lasting legacy of 2010 Olympic games
VANCOUVER -- He was the mayor of Whistler when the village played host the 2010 Olympic Games, and the biggest party he’d ever seen.
“10 years ago people in Whistler were exuberant,” Ken Melamed said, wearing a Team Canada jacket while standing in front of the Olympic rings in the heart of the village.
The 2010 mayor enjoyed the thrilling events and patriotic medal ceremonies, but he reveled in the chance to talk up Whistler to the world.
“I think I did 72 interviews in the 17 days with media from around the world,” said Melamed. “It was a great time for me to represent not just Whistler, but Canada.”
When the games were over, the people kept coming. “Tourism Whistler did some polling and found our recognition for Whistler went up significantly in Europe and around the world,” said Melamed.
“If you can imagine three and a half billion people watched the Olympics at some point. That’s one in two people on the planet watched the Olympics hosted in Vancouver and Whistler. That kind of exposure can't be purchased,” said Marsha Walden, the CEO of Destination British Columbia.
“When you say the name Vancouver or Whistler now people around the world know where that is.”
B.C. has seen a 64 per cent increase in tourist visits in the past 10 years. “In the decade since the Olympics we've seen incredible growth from markets like China, from Mexico from South Korea, so markets that weren't necessarily our strong ones,” said Walden.
While not all of that can be attributed to hosting the games, Melamed says it had a phenomenal impact. And for the former Olympic mayor? “One of the highlights of my life.”