Perpetual benefit from Olympics

One year ago Olympic anticipation was at a fever pitch and was only about to be surpassed exponentially by the games themselves.

  • Feb. 15, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Perpetual benefit from Olympics

One year ago Olympic anticipation was at a fever pitch and was only about to be surpassed exponentially by the games themselves.

Canada’s exceptional medal haul on the podium was, of course, fabulous and so, for the most part, was the weather.

The festive atmosphere in Greater Vancouver and Whistler was all but unprecedented and the District of Sooke had the distinction of a BC Street address for the half-month duration of the spectacle.

BC Street was a fixture in a Richmond area known as the O-Zone. Sooke maintained a display on the street showing off the district’s various attributes, including a fiberglass killer whale created by artist Johanne Audet.

About a quarter million visitors are estimated to have passed through BC Street and anecdotal records indicate Sooke was a popular stop along the way (gifts of smoked salmon were effective tools of influence.)

No one involved in the event will ever forget the Olympic experience and the jury will likely remain out on the economic fallout from the expense of being part of it.

There is no doubt about the value of the venture in the mind of Sooke’s Chief Administrative Officer Evan Parliament, who, when contacted recently for lingering impressions of the Olympic PR effort first remembered the draw prize winners.

“Immediately I think of our grand prize winner,” he said, “the couple from Richmond who won the big multi-draw where we basically spoiled the living heck out of them.”

Parliament referred to the Sooke 2010 grand prize package with a total value of over $7,000, “everything from AdrenaLine (zipline) to the Sooke Harbour House, to fishing, to Markus’… this business to that business… a whole host of prizes bundled into one package.”

The CAO recalled how the winners had invited friends from England to join them for their Sooke excursion. He said they made a return visit to thank Sooke council for the bounty.

“It’s that kind of exposure,” Parliament related, “even though it might seem small, that BC Street was all about. I think that story is just a microcosm of what we did.”

In a Jan. 27, ‘10 preview of the expedition, Mirror editor Pirjo Raits had described the newly adopted “Wild by Nature” theme of Sooke’s promotional material and the consortium of parties chipping in to make it happen.

Local sponsors had pledged about $40,000 worth of support while the Economic Development Commission ($15,000) and District of Sooke ($25,000) were also firmly committed.

Almost a year removed from the extravaganza, tangible evidence of the PR mission’s effectiveness is not so easy to come by. But Neil Flynn, speaking on behalf of the Sooke Region Tourism Association on January 7, said that’s about as much as was realistically expected.

Who comes here and why?

“It’s a really hard number to determine,” explained Flynn.

While there is a growing science devoted to it, getting to the root of tourism trends… mining for information, etc., remains in some ways a bit vague.

“It’s such a hard number to come up with. We can only really go by gut feel,” said Flynn who operates the Salty Towers B&B.

There’s one post-Olympic development Flynn’s optimistic about and there’s nothing nebulous about it. He explained,

“My last general session at Tourism Victoria… when they talk about things to do in Victoria they talk about the whole southwest coast from Sooke to Port Renfrew as something to do in Victoria. They used to ignore Sooke, now it’s something they truly brag about.”

The most reliable yardstick in assessing the health of the local tourism industry is likely to continue to be, as Flynn pointed out, vacancy rates in the accommodation sector… and the fuller the better for the local economy.

Was buying in to BC Street worth it for Sooke?

That depends on your point of view. Finding out what and who is here may not necessarily bring the visitors to the Sooke region, but it’s safe to suppose they won’t show up in significant numbers by accident.

“A quarter million people came through BC Street over 17 days last winter, and our booth was non-stop for those 17 days,” Evan Parliament concluded.

“Did Sooke go to an international event to expose itself? Absolutely! We were one of the most sought after booths. We were judged by our peers to be the best.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner’s report confirms cause of death of three men at Sooke River in 2020

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen drown while ‘puddle-jumping’ in pickup truck

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read