Thursday, November 12, 2009

More fizzle than boom from Games benefits so far

Unless things change significantly, the economic benefits of the Winter Games are looking pretty thin.
Take jobs, one of the big selling points.
According to an economic study done for government by
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, having the Games created about 18,400 person years of employment from 2003 to the end of last year.
That sounds dramatic, but spread over six years it's about 3,000 additional jobs at any given time.
Nothing to sneer at, but with about 2.2 million people employed in the province, not that significant either.
Especially when at least some increased employment would have resulted if the money spent on the Games went for other projects or was left in taxpayers' pockets.
The report on increased economic activity from the Games tells a similar story. The report found that the Games had meant an extra $685 million to $890 million in economic activity over the six-year period.
Take the midpoint, and that's about $130 million a year.
Given that the provincial GDP is about $150 billion, that's less than one-tenth of one per cent.
You could argue that these results aren't surprising. They're consistent with a forecast of Games benefits done for the government in 2002.
But they're a far cry from the rosy picture painted by politicians talking about the dramatic economic benefits from next year's festivities.
And in one area - possibly the most important for British Columbians outside Greater Vancouver and Whistler - the forecast got it badly wrong.
The 2002 report predicted increased tourism revenues during the period of $40 to $600 million between 2003 and 2008.
Based on the midpoint, that would have translated into some 6,500 person-years of increased employment
The PriceWaterhouseCoopers report found there was no increase in tourism as a result of the Olympics. The expectation that increased awareness would lead to more visitors to the province was wrong. The report estimates the Games have likely meant about 10 additional jobs in the tourism sector each year.
That should be a particular concern to communities outside the immediate Games area. Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and Whistler all end up with guaranteed Games legacies - buildings and infrastructure. Much of the spending by Games organizers, from salaries to supplies, also benefited those communities. And realistically, the promised potential future investment is likely to provide the greatest boost to those areas.
The rest of the province has fared less well. Leaving aside nice but hardly essential items like Spirit Squares, the Games so far have represented a transfer of tax dollars to the Lower Mainland.
Tourism gains should have broader benefits. The theory is that travellers, newly aware of B.C.'s charms because of the Games, would likely venture beyond the Lower Mainland.
According to the 2002 report, the biggest tourism gains are still ahead. It set out several scenarios, but the mid-range forecast projected about $2.9 billion in increased tourism because of the Games between 2008 and 2014.
The failure to achieve the increase forecast for the initial period raises doubts about those numbers.
It's especially troubling that the failure might be partly self-inflicted. The PWC report notes the 2002 projections envisioned that "a co-ordinated and effective marketing plan would be in place" before the Games. It wasn't.
The government had warnings about the problem. In 2003, the auditor general noted a well-planned, well-funded marketing effort was needed to seize the potential benefits from the Games.
In a follow-up report in 2006, the auditor general noted that hasn't happened. "The marketing effort to date has been delayed and unco-ordinated, with no central agency taking the lead," the report warned.
The confusion continues. Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger eliminated Tourism B.C., the highly regarded industry marketing agency, without warning of consultation in August.
The big opportunities for tourism promotion are coming in the next three or four months.
For British Columbians outside Greater Vancouver, benefits from the Games depend on how well the job is handled.
Footnote: It's important to note that the benefits, except for tourism, are much as projected in the 2002 report. Which raises questions about the level of scrutiny and analysis brought to the report by journalists and politicians and policy groups. The pro-Games rhetoric drowned out the few cautionary voices.


Norman Farrell said...

We are beginning to see that the Government of British Columbia is too large to be effectively managed with the present structure. The CEO holds all power tightly to himself. Information is highly managed. Cabinet Ministers are untrusted. Deputies report, not to the Minister, but to the Premier's office. Lobbyists exercise power and influence beyond that of elected officials. Ordinary MLA's are trained to be automatons, working only from approved scripts. Original thought is unwelcome and, even worse, actively discouraged, under threat of punishment. Challenge to the ultimate authority is eliminated.

Pundits credit Campbell with being a policy wonk before a politician. If true, his studying of policy is incomplete and his interests shift while tasks remain unfinished.

Any subject, detailed tourism marketing for example, that fails to hold the Premier's personal attention will be treated by Government with disinterest.

The decaying press lacks resources or will, or both, to hold Campbell's Government accountable. Unfortunately, that is matched by an Official Opposition that is poorly managed and without vision. Carole James and her advisers may believe that Campbell will self-destruct anyway so they will just stand back and wait to finish first by default. After all, the NDP won't desire a vigorous and critical press when it assumes power.

DPL said...

Oh , but the important thing is that Gordo gets his face in front of the camera at every opportunity. The claims of money falling from heaven as the result of a two week circus is really pie in the sky( as the old song goes and you get it when you die). Gordo seems to have defecits that are huge, but his suporters still at least publically claim he is the best things since the invention of sliced bread

Anonymous said...

Several trends seem to be emerging: First, Gordo is a world class control freak; nothing in government can happen without his involvement.

Second, it is becoming clear that while the Olympics may have been a good original idea, there is a growing disconnect between Metro Vancouver and the rest of BC, with the limited benefits going soley to Metro Vancouver.

Third, the media may want to spend some time examining how many ordinary British Columbians will actually be able to attend or participate in some way. Like the Price Waterhouse report suggests, I suspect that the actual numbers will be far lower than the hype.

Fourth, while Paul is to be commend for asking questions, the majority of his colleagues are nothing more than shills for the government. For specific examples, just listen to News 1130, the Bill Good show or the Christy Clark show. Very limited Price Waterhouse coverage there; and no critical analysis.

Finally, while Gordo and his right wing toadies still like bash the NDP, when the final bills get tallied, the Canada Line, Trade and Convention Centre and the Olympics will show that Right Wingers can't run a lemonade stand let alone a government.

Anonymous said...

No, no, no - it's the NDP that can't run a lemonade stand. The Liberals can't run one honestly.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous spoke of the "shills" at CKNW Radio including Bill Good and Christy Clark. I realized it's become far worse than that when I heard Christy Clark (while defending the size of his recently "outed" remuneration package) unashamedly and repeatedly, even after being corrected by several shocked and surprised phone callers, declare that the BC Ferry Corporation, thanks to its "privatization" and particularly to the management of CEO David Hahn, IS NOW RETURNING A PROFIT OF $500 MILLION A YEAR TO THE BC GOVERNEMENT. It's one thing to bash the NDP but when the largest public broadcasting agency in the province allows permits that kind of programming I can only wonder how an opposition can fight back against what would appear to be systemic corruption?


Anonymous said...

Games benefits

Have a look at this Seattle Times article for "Games benefits".

The money quote: connection offers no business advantage

So what would it be like if the Olympics had to be as 'transparent' as the the athlete's drug tests?