Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) CEO John Furlong said Prince George is one the right track to benefit from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Furlong was the keynote speaker at presentation on the Olympics in Prince George, Tuesday evening.
Furlong said the delegation funded by the City of Prince George to the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy is a “terrific strategy,”
“I think it’s brilliant to go there. It’s going to have an impact. Just by being in Torino, you’ll know what it’s like and what works in the environment,” he said. “We’re really trying to communicate to the smaller communities of the north that the Games are for everybody. We can all cross the finish line together and win together.”
Furlong committed to seeing the Olympic Torch make its way through Prince George and to support the Prince George Torino mission fully.
“You have fantastic venues in Prince George,” he added.
Prince George can and should seek to host Olympic teams during training, he said.
In addition to the benefits Prince George can attract to itself directly, the whole province -and all of Canada – will benefit from culturally and financially from the Games.
“The economic impact on the province is huge,” Furlong said.
A study done by the Royal Bank showed the economic impact of the Games in 2005 alone was $2.1 billion, he said.
Tourism is currently an approximately $9 billion industry in B.C. When Calgary hosted the Winter Games in 1988, the province saw a 28 per cent boost in tourism that year and a long-term 18 per cent increase, Furlong said.
“In B.C., 18 per cent is a $2 billion increase and that is every year,” Furlong said.
Spirit of B.C. Community Committee chairman Don Bassermann said it was highly encouraging to hear Furlong – a former Prince George resident – show his support for Prince George.
Bassermann said hosting a team is just the beginning.
B.C. and Prince George will reap the tourism benefits from the Games long after who won the medals is a distant memory, he said.
“The opportunities are huge, but it won’t fall into our laps,” he said. “We have to go and earn it, to get it.”