KAMLOOPS - The city’s tournament strategy is continuing to grow and show dividends.
Kamloops businesses saw $11.2 million in direct economic impact to hotels, restaurants and retail from tournaments and similar sporting events held in the city last year, including Hockey Day in Canada and the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship, according to the City's parks department. This year has lower profile events booked, but events supervisor Sean Smith expects it to be a similar economic outcome for the city as the Tournament Capital brand continues to grow after 16 years.
“We had some pretty significant years in 2016 that may make it tough to match, but at the same time more provincial tournaments are booked this year,” he says. “It’s not always the international events that increase the economy.”
This year is likely to be a bit of a lull between high profile events and most are set now but events like the annual slo-pitch tournaments bring in 100 teams, and smaller events like the B.C. Special Olympics Summer Games or national university soccer tournament can add up. 2018 is looking brighter, though, Smith says, with the B.C. winter games already set for February 2018 and another event with a national profile for late summer 2018 is in talks now.
Longer term he says the city is also looking at a national quidditch tournament in March 2018. Also, with the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships happening in Vancouver and Victoria, Kamloops may see some spin off from the tournament as a potential training camp site for one of the teams or a pre-tournament game.
Parks manager Jeff Putnam says the city has an established brand that allows Kamloops to rival cities four or five times larger for events. The strategy now is to move away from holding events in the prime sporting months and look strategically at shoulder season options.
“We’re trying to be more strategic now,” he says. “In the months of July and August, our hotel partners are full. We’re shooting for spring and fall more now.”
Tourism Kamloops is keeping an eye on accommodation as the Rocky Mountaineer can bring in hundreds of people for a night and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion may bring in hundreds more on top of that.
On average, Smith says Kamloops hosts between 100 to 110 tournament-type events in a year, with five to eight significant ones. Economically, the biggest year was 2013, Smith says, with the B.C. Seniors Games helping bump the year up to $13 million in direct impact.
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