When I moved here in 2001, it was after the Era of Big Events in Seattle seemed to have ended – no more Goodwill Games, no more NCAA Final Four at the Kingdome, the stymied Olympics bid…we had the MLB all-star game, and that was the last of it. Maybe it was all the stadium building or the post-9/11 economic bust or the rise of the Lesser Seattle movement, but somehow those huge drivers of tourism and economic impact drifted away. Until now…
In 2018 or 2022, we might be one of the host cities for the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. And that’ll be right on the back of the 2015 U.S. Open here at Chambers Bay. And possibly a large event celebrating our region’s role as the epicenter of global health in 2012.
That’s quite a calendar building up (not to mention the whole 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair in 2012 as well), and a great opportunity to increase our region’s profile on the world stage. Of course, we’re already the top domestic destination, according to the Specialty Travel Agents Association!
Speaking of large events, the ol’ 2010 Winter Olympics in BC is finally upon us and we’ll be able to answer the question that tourism and economic development professionals have been debating for years: “Will the Vancouver Olympics actually drive people to come to our region?” Will they stop here on their way up or back, or will they come in the next few years because “Hey, once the Olympics are over, I’m going to make it a point to check out that place a few hours south of here…seems cool.”? Hopefully both!
As I always say to tourists, “Make sure to come, leave a lot of money, and then go. And then tell all your friends to do the same!” And a bunch of big events that draw people here from around the world is the best way to spread that message.