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  • Canada still cashing in on 2010 Winter Olympics legacy


    Canada will launch a new marketing campaign in 2012 leveraging its status as host of the 2010 Winter Olympics to position itself as a destination for ‘the world’s most prestigious events’.

    Michele Saran, executive director of meetings, conventions and incentive travel at the Canadian Tourism Commission, said Canada gained so much positive attention when it hosted the Games, which it was continuing to capitalise on.

    “We were very strategic about it from the moment we won the Olympics; we looked at it as a chance to sell Canada as a country, not just Vancouver or Whistler,” she said. “A year ahead we invited athletes to come to Canada on holiday, which made the media in their home countries and created excitement.

    "The torch relay is usually just of interest for the host country, but we invited carriers from around the world to gain additional coverage. We also had the opportunity to get the most senior event people, who would never normally go anywhere, out on a fam.”

    Saran said this activity raised the profile of the country on the world stage and helped Canada take the top spot in the FutureBrand Country Brand Index (CBI), for the second year running.

    “As a result of this, we’re creating a global platform for the MICE sector leveraging our ability to host the world’s most prestigious events. We’re positioning Canada as an expert, offering ‘more than you’re looking for’ – which applies not just to Canada itself, but also to our team. We’re unique in that we’re not just an NTO; we’re a convention bureau for the entire country and we have sales people all around the world.”

    It is hoped that the new campaign will lead to a 10 per cent increase in delegate numbers in 2012. The campaign is supported by a new brochure and a multilingual website, advertisements and videos, all launching in January.

    Saran added that the UK (ranked number 13 in the CBI) was now presented with an opportunity to raise its profile, but that it was up to tourism chiefs to keep that buzz going after the Olympics.

    “London will get a bump regardless,” she said. “But it’s what you do with that attention, whether you can maintain it, be strategic about the media opportunities you’re being given.”

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