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BC Summer Games visitors pumping $2 million into local economy

Four-day event has swelled city's population by at least 5,000
BC Games rowing
Rowers practice for the opening events of the BC Summer Games southwest of Prince George at Nasdsilnich Lake (formerly West Lake). The rowing events started today at 8:30 a.m. and will continue to 4:30 p.m. at the Camp Hughes facility at the south shore of the lake at 21970 Blackwater Road.

There are no cash prizes for the athletes competing this weekend at the BC Summer Games but for hoteliers, merchants and restauranteurs and gas stations owners, the payoff of hosting the four-day event is enormous.

The Games are expected to inject at least $2 million into the local economy.

“If you happen to Google ‘hotel rooms in Prince George’ right now, there’s not a lot of inventory left and unfortunately if people left it to the last minute that means prices are going to be high, so that’s maybe a little frustrating for the visitors but really good for the community to see those dollars coming in,” said Colin Carson, chief executive officer of Tourism Prince George.

“it’s everything from things you might not expect, like gas stations, there’s a bunch more traffic here this weekend for that. The taxi companies are going to be busy with guests. Restaurants, retail grocery stores will be a lot busier with families getting snack. Everything will be busier this weekend in the community, which is exciting to see.”

Close to 3,000 athletes, coaches, chaperones and officials are spending at least five days in the city and they’re bringing with them more than 2,000 parents, family members and friends who have filled hotel rooms close to capacity and are spending money on local businesses in and around the city.

“We do that economic assessment impact and for this  one we don’t actually know, but I can tell you they project any BC Summer Games in any community is contributing about $2 million to that community,” said Carson.

Visitor centre traffic at Tourism P.G.’s headquarters on First Avenue has increased tenfold since the athletes began to arrive on Wednesday as people new to the city check out what the city has to offer for things to do and see or offering tips on where to go find the restaurant food they like.

The Games feature 18 different sporting events in competitions that started Thursday and end Sunday at noon. Many of the city’s sports venues are being used and some of the outdoor water sports will draw people to the outlying lakes close to Prince George.

“Sailing is out at Tabor Lake, triathlon and rowing and canoe/kayaking are at West Lake and towed water sports is up at Ness Lake, so it’s really touching every corner of the community,” said Carson.

“All the BC Summer Games event are all free to watch, which is great and we want locals to check that out, but we’re not able to capture that image really of how many people are coming to watch from out of town.. Because there are no ticket sales, we’re estimating a lot of the impact for some of those visitors.”

Many of the Games participants had never been to Prince George before this week and the hope is that their exposure the city and their experiences during this year’s visit will result in them coming back another year on a family vacation.

Carson says the new beach volleyball facility and renovation of Masich Place Stadium, rebuilt for the BC Games, will help the city attract other sporting events.