Archive for the 'Vancouver' Category

Mother’s Day

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Mother’s Day is really every day, but we celebrate it on the second Sunday in May, when the weather is most likely to be decent, whichever hemisphere you are in. This year, Mother’s Day is May 9th.

Mothers are such special people in our lives and giving back and showing them how much you appreciate all that they did and are always doing for you is just a token. They are generally the most abiding Love which you will experience.

If you are not going to be in the same City as where your Mother is, then you can still make international arrangements to let her know that you are thinking of her, and of course, you can also travel there for a surprise visit.

With the internet, some of the last-minute fares make all of this affordable! And, flowers are definitely possible, too. Don’t forget that you can also make a donation online to a charity your mother believes in, on behalf of your Mom, too.

International packages go quickly by Federal Express and other carriers, so if you are in another country, find something unique, ethnic and what she would enjoy and get the concierge at your hotel to send it post-haste!

A little planning now can still give your Mother a day that she knows you care.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Holy Days

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

This is a week-end when people of many religions will be celebrating important events in the lives of their people — whether it be Passover, Easter or something else.

If you happen to be traveling, especially if you are alone, please seek out your community in the cities you visit. You may be very surprised how helpful the local members are and how they may be willing to be a “home away from home” at an important time.

When we travel, it’s important to make connections among our own people as well as learn about the cultures of others. All of it is a chance to grow in understanding and to develop bridges with your culture and to other cultures. It’s important to practice this kind of traveling as it is one which can help make a better world.

Have a safe and happy Holy Day week-end.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Vancouver Olympics and BC Tourism

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The Olympic and Paralympic Games — that was quite a party for British Columbia! But now that both of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are over, it’s time to reconsider the impact of hosting the event.

It certainly costs a lot of money (as much as $6 billion depending on who’s doing the counting). Studies of the usual economic impact of the Games suggest a payback in gross domestic product of anywhere from $2 billion to $10.7 billion – which is definitely a decent return on investment at the high end, but it would be a dead loss at the other. Time will tell as the statistics roll in.

However, there’s another important side of the ledger because much of the money was used to purchase hard assets which will have enduring value. These will help the city and province realize social, environmental and economic goals. And then, of course, there was the inestimable value of fostering community and inclusion of various groups – especially the Four Host First Nations tribes.

In any case, we won’t know the real benefit which the Games delivered until we have more data, and that will be a long time coming.

We have some hints — for example, Tourism Vancouver along with Tourism BC and Tourism Whistler surveyed 2,500 people standing in lineups at various Olympic and Paralympic venues. The volunteers asked whether the experience has met their visitors’ expectations; whether they’d come back; whether they’d like to receive information about British Columbia on a continuing basis and whether they would agree to a followup interview after they return home (80% agreed).

That’s how tourism officials will finally quantify the lasting impact of this international exposure. If long-term tourism benefits, that will be HUGE for BC. And, certainly, I hope you will consider British Columbia as a destination, for it’s beautiful and filled with promise of a great time.

The formula used to measure the value of tourism is the number of visitors, times the length of stay, times the amount spent daily and in the first quarter of 2009, according to the Canadian Tourism Commission, there were 407,900 visits to B.C. from the United States. The average stay was 3.6 days and the average spent per day was $154, for a total of just over $226 million. In the same period, there were 215,200 overseas visitors, who stayed on average 18.7 days, and spent an average of $87 per day, for a total of $350 million. It seems that Tourism BC has the quick visiting Americans and the longer-stay Asians and Europeans (mostly). This requires a different approach and set of experiences offered for a 3 1/2 day visit versus an 18 1/2 days visit!

There are some indicators that forecasts of 250,000 visitors to the Games were met and actually superceded by a large margin. This is partially measured by how local tourism ambassadors roving the streets met on average 500 people during each four-hour shift, and 6,800 visitors sought information at the agency’s main office in the first 2 weeks of February 2010 compared with 2,800 in all of February 2009.

During the first week of the Games, Tourism Vancouver serviced five times the normal volume of visitors. Canada’s Northern House welcomed more than 70, 000 visitors, and LiveCity drew 25,000 a day at Yaletown. Hotels that were previously at 55% capacity before the Games were 98% filled on the eve of competition, which is why you must always book early to attend these events or when you know you have to be in a City holding such an event as huge as the Games are.

On Feb. 11, Vancouver International Airport recorded the arrival of 160 private planes, the most ever on a single day, and March 1, at the Olympic Games portion completion, was expected to be its busiest day in history with 50 per cent more people and 70 per cent more baggage than has been handled previously. It all went very smoothly, and that’s kudos!

Meeting planners can have a 10-year horizon, so again long-time impact remains to be seen. But, Vancouver, BC showed well and proved it could handle anything! So, you may well be attending a conference or other set of meeting s there in the near future as meeting planners have paid attention. Even the head of Expedia was in town.

And 174 million Americans watched the Vancouver Games on NBC through the first 12 days, 24 per cent more than the entire last season of American Idol, and it was 20 per cent higher than the 2006 Winter Games in Turin. I am sure that Americans unfamiliar with BC will be impressed, and being able to drive there and camp or find reasonable motels, especially in small towns will be a big draw for stressed and frugally-forced American travelers.

The vice-president of travel with Tourism Vancouver, said the global TV audience is 2.5 billion and that 15,000 accredited journalists and other media workers spread the message of Vancouver’s – and B. C.’s – beauty, cuisine, culture and lifestyle. It is also been the most blogged and tweeted Olympics in history. That will result in more vacations and conferences there, for sure, unlike what Beijing or Turin could expect.

The Olympic venues were also used for strengthening BC’s business production, orders and exports. Both the forest industry and high-tech companies displayed their wares and were meeting with venture capitalists. BC industry needs the jump-start.

Vancouver Economic Development Commission learned that Olympic hosts often see a 15% to 20% increase in exports, so they began targeting global companies and invited 75 of them involved in aviation, business services, wireless communications, film production, digital media, engineering, e-learning and more to meet and greet local businesses during the Games. PricewaterhouseCooperswill report on an impact study in early 2012.

Vancouverites may have discovered during the Games that cycling is a wonderful way to avoid traffic snarls, parking issues and fuel costs. If it’s a lasting habit, that results in cheaper transportation, great exercise and no pollution – that’s priceless, personally and to the community planning.

Similarly, the Canada Line may persuade hundreds, maybe even thousands of Vancouverites, that public transit beats driving to work. Same benefits could amount to billions of dollars in savings.

Has the preparation for and hosting of the Games made Vancouver an even better place to live and to visit? Absolutely, yes, beyond a doubt. Come see for yourself!

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Vancouver Paralympics Finish 2

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The 2010 Paralympics broke new records in attendance and visibility around the world. It closed out in a flash of colorful fireworks and patriotism under a basketball-court sized Canadian flag. Sunday night as athletes from around the world gathered and said their Games goodbye.

Many of the 506 athletes here wished not to stay on the field of competition and complete the focus of so many hopes and dreams.

Some, like Canada’s Lauren Woolstencroft and Germany’s Verena Bentele won five gold medals. In anyone’s view, these were remarkable achievements. Visually impaired Canadian cross-country skier Brian Mc Keever won 3 Gold medals. Amazingly inspirational athletes all.

Others, like the world-class Canadian sledge hockey team, were deeply disappointed at their showing in the Games. Yet they showed great valor and sportsmanship, and that’s the heart and soul of the Olympics.

Under that massive Canadian flag at the open-air Whistler celebration site, they were invited back for more in four years’ time — this time in Sochi, Russia — and many will continue their rigorous, often-lonely training, to try for new goals, yet again.

Once in a while during the day, the sun brightly shine through clouds, but at another time clouds drenched Whistler thoroughly, delaying the Closing Ceremony. Only 1/10 the crowd of the Closing Olympic Ceremony attended, as it was not held in a huge indoor stadium. Instead, outside in Whistler village, there was a sense of belonging. The 6,000 spectators, athletes, officials and dignitaries, who included Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Steven Harper, Canada’s Prime Minister, had all come prepared wearing rainwear.

There was a sweet historical irony at play Sunday because it was the 25th anniversary of the start of Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” tour, which was an event that helped change the world’s view of people who live with a disability. Hansen, was a key part of the opening ceremony.

The audience was spell-bound as they watched 125 skiers, of all ages and abilities, carry red torches down Whistler Mountain, and they listened to the voices of 185 people in the Sea to Sky Chorus singing of “O Canada”.

Upbeat and themed from the anthem, “With Glowing Hearts,” the organizers hoped the Ceremony would be a festive celebration rather than sadness at seeing one of the most successful Paralympics in history come to a close.

Sir Phil Craven, the president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), was effusive in his praise of the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VanOC) and its legion of blue-jacketed volunteers. He said they had created a wonderful community spirit for the athletes.

John Furlong, the president of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, left the ceremony halfway through to catch a flight to Georgia, where he is attending a memorial for Nodar Kumaritashvili, the young luge athlete who was killed Feb. 12 in a training accident, on the too-fast, German-designed track at Whistler.

But, before Furlong left, he told the cheering crowds that the Paralympic and Olympic Games had ignited and united the country, saying “We now know that sport success is in our nation’s highest interest; that through sport we are a stronger nation, a better nation.” As the facilities improve in countries which hold the Games, tourists and residents reap the benefits afterward. Use these world-class venues as part of your holidays and to keep up your own fitness!

You’ll be able to see videos here and there on the internet which feature aspects of the Ceremony which included a feast of Canadian musical and artistic talent, like:the foot-stomping music of Quebec folk band La Bottine Souriante, dances by Whistler’s Soul Funktion Studio and a hoop dance by Host First Nation Lil’Wat member Alex Wells,as well as throat singing by Inuit artist Tanya Tagaq and a traditional Inuit blanket toss.

Then, as Andrew Allen sang the ballad “Amazing”, the Paralympic torches in Whistler and Vancouver were extinguished.

These were benchmark Games in many respects, as they drew larger television audiences than ever before. Even Canadian TV, bent to public pressure and finally relented. They televised the closing ceremony live across the nation, in both English and French. But, unfortunately, the United States’ NBC did not do much of anything!

The Paralympics were a success in terms of attendance; more than 230,000 tickets (85 per cent of those available), were sold, making it by those standards the most successful Winter Games ever, and the Canadian committees earned this result with hard-work and by upgrading the treatment of the event. In the past, other nations have disrespected the event and the athletes. This has finally stopped, thanks to Canada.

The upside is also that the Paralympics still have the same neighborly feel as the Olympics did 30 years ago, (before it discovered corporate sponsorships). And, I think their spirit is stronger for it.

Blessings to all who supported and participated in the Games, and I hope visitors will continue to come to see “Beautiful British Colombia” for decades to come!

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Whistler, BC – Paralympic Closing Ceremony

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

The Paralympic Games closed last Sunday in the little alpine village of Whistler, BC. Most of the Paralympic events happened on the slopes above the village, so it was fitting that they host some of the welcome and goodbye events.

Unfortunately, it rained as the teams and celebrants paraded through town, but that didn’t dampen the welcome or the spirit of the event.

Vancouverite and 5 Gold Medal winner in these Games, Lauren Woolstencroft carried Canada’s flag. She won her medals in Alpine Skiing, visually-impaired class. What an accomplishment for any athlete. Brava!

The group from Sochi, Russia, which will host the next Winter Games in 2014 was also part of the program and included Russian children and dancers.

I found the Inuit blanket tossing ceremony the most interesting inclusion, and I am glad to see the First Nations included all the way through both sets of Games, as they were the hosts. Everything happened on their tribal lands, which still need reparations for being stolen. You can learn more about some of the tribes and the current issues in the Vancouver archive (link below).

I thought the Canadians did an admirable job of including everyone in the process and the Games were well organized. These were the first Games which had a possibility of being too warm, and unfortunately, weather factored in as El Nino made the winter even warmer than usual.

But the events were arranged and re-arranged and best I know, everything was finally done. I hope one day that Vancouver and / or Seattle will be able to host the summer Games. I think it’s a better fit.

Enjoy coming to either City, and don’t forget Whistler, either!

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