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Use Olympics as 'launch pad': Campbell to new tourism council

Premier Gordon Campbell asked the first meeting of the new minister's council on tourism to use the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver as a “launch pad” to promote the province.

“It is an indication of the great importance that government places on the tourism industry that Premier Gordon Campbell attended our inaugural meeting,” council chair Stuart McLaughlin wrote in a summary posted on the B.C. Aviation Council website. “In his remarks, the Premier urged us to think outside the box about ways that we can use the 2010 Olympics as a launch pad to the future.”

The council, whose membership was announced Nov. 23, had its first meeting on Nov. 30, just over two months before the Olympics begin Feb. 12.

"It made me laugh to read that," said New Democratic Party tourism, culture and the arts critic Spencer Herbert. "I would have thought that would have been something we started as soon as we got the games."

It's late now, he said. "The Olympics are here."

Tourism, culture and the arts minister Kevin Krueger announced in August that the government was closing Tourism B.C., the Crown corporation that had been responsible for promoting the province.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report on Olympic impacts released in November found the Games had not boosted tourism in the province by 2008. “No substantial spending occurred in 2003 to 2008,” they found.

Premier Campbell's remarks show little has changed, said Herbert. "It shows continuing mismanagement of what could be a really good opportunity for tourism."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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