Visitors spent $455M during olympics: report

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

British Columbians and Olympic visitors spent $455 million on hotels, food and drinks and transportation during the first three months of 2010, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study on the economic impacts of the Vancouver Olympics released Friday.

The accounting firm, hired by the British Columbia and federal governments, estimated there were 325,000 visitors to the Olympic province for the Games, including 270,000 from outside Canada.

Hotel revenue increased $130 million because of higher room rates and a spike in February bookings by as much as 300,000.

Restaurants and bars saw $129 million more revenue in the first quarter than during the same period in the previous three years. Incremental retail sales grew by $100 million in the quarter as did transportation and recreation by $95 million.

PwC estimates that since 2003, the Games brought $2.3 billion in Gross Domestic Product impacts and 45,500 person years of employment. Most of the impacts were in construction, operations and tourism.

Stretched over seven years, the economic impact of the Games is less impressive and accounts for a tiny fraction of British Columbia’s GDP. Ministry of Finance figures estimate the B.C. GDP is $197.9 billion.

VANOC data said 6,689 contracts and purchase orders for $1.6 billion were issued. Of those, 4,700 for $1.1 billion were with companies with offices in B.C.

The Vancouver Games were watched by an estimated 1.8 billion viewers worldwide, according to an International Olympic Committee marketing study released in July.

VANOC is expected to say Friday that it broke-even on a $1.76 billion operating budget. At least $80 million extra from taxpayers was needed because of the recession.

bob.mackin@sunmedia.ca

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