Government reps say efforts to promote province successful
Officials and spectators alike said provincial spending to showcase Alberta to the world was worth it.
Alberta advertised itself with three venues at the Vancouver Olympic Games: Alberta House, Alberta Plaza and the Alberta Train.
“Getting on the train was the ‘it’ invitation of the Olympics and the ride itself exceeded my expectations,” said Susan Senecal, the vice president of operations at A&W Food Services of Canada Inc.
“What the world saw of Alberta in Vancouver is only the beginning,” said Lindsay Blackett, Alberta’s minister of culture and community spirit. “It’s fitting to say, we hit a home run,” he added.
“Our goal for the Games was to promote Alberta as a great place to live, work, visit and invest, and we certainly achieved that,” said Cindy Ady, Alberta’s minister of tourism.
Brett Kissel playing The Hockey Song before the Canadian men’s hockey semifinal game against Slovakia at the Alberta Plaza Feb. 26
Photo: Derek Mange/Calgary Journal
The Alberta government spent $14 million over the past three years to acquire venues and promote Alberta at the 2010 Games. The investment was well worth it, with hundreds of business contacts made and media attention that would have cost about $70 million to purchase, Ady said.
“One of the hits of my Vancouver Olympic experience was riding the Alberta train to and from Whistler,” Senecal said.
She was invited aboard the Alberta Train as a guest of Travel Alberta. Senecal said she had many
opportunities to meet new people, exchange business cards and make important networking connections.
The Alberta Train transported 2,800 people between Whistler and Vancouver over the course of the Games.
It initially cost $4 million, but since part of the train was rented out to private investors, the cost to tax payers was only $2 million, Ady pointed out.
“The train not only provided a unique and fun way to promote Alberta, it also provided a valuable service to passengers, most of whom could not have visited Whistler any other way,” Senecal said.
“Honest, welcoming, and all-business, the train experience mirrored the qualities of the host province,” Senecal said.
The Alberta House was located in downtown Vancouver. “The Alberta House gave us an opportunity to tell our story,” Ady said.
The Alberta house hosted business-to-business activities for industry members to learn more about Alberta’s economic and tourism opportunities, said Tom Olsen, spokesperson for the Alberta government. The focus was for the “world to invest in Alberta,” he added.
The Alberta House also supported some up-and-coming Alberta winter athletes by supplying them with tickets to their respective sports to inspire them, Olsen said.
According to the government of Alberta, Alberta House hosted more than 2,250 international guests including athletes, sports federations, corporate leaders, tourism operators, media and government officials.
The Alberta Plaza, which was connected to the Alberta House, was a covered outdoor restaurant showcasing Alberta food, with dishes for under $10 and a stage where 40 Alberta artists gave free concerts.
Lindsay Ell, 20, a singer and song-writer from Edmonton, played at the Alberta Plaza on Feb. 21.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” Ell said.
One thousand visitors lined up every day to dine at the Alberta Plaza – 18,000 in total, according to the Alberta government.
Richard Brown, an employee of the Alberta Plaza, said, “I’m from Vancouver but I think they have done a better job representing Alberta than Vancouver has done representing Vancouver.”