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Vancouver welcomes first major health conference of 2015

Americas News
Vancouver welcomes first major health conference of 2015

AMERICAS – Hard work by conference ambassadors and big investment in the Vancouver Convention Centre has resulted in the city recording its biggest year for international  medical conferences.
The first of four large health conferences for 2015, recently saw 10,300 delegates come to town for the World Congress of Dermatology.
It took seven years for local dermatologists and teams from the convention centre and Tourism Vancouver to land the contract, which is expected to contribute at least CAN$35m (US$28.35m) in direct spending at the city’s hotels, restaurants and retailers.
“This validates the expansion of the convention centre which was critical to our ability to go after these larger conferences internationally,” centre director of sales Chris Gowe said.
The $836m investment ($540.7m from the province, $222.5m from the feds, $90m from Tourism Vancouver and $30m from revenue generated by the centre) added retail to the Coal Harbour community and completed a section of the seawall. “Everyone’s busy,” Gowe said.
The centre expects to host 53 conventions this year with total spending by residents from outside Metro Vancouver forecast at $302m.
“Convention delegates comprise less than 10% of the millions of annual visitors, but they spend significantly higher than regular tourists,” said Dave Gazley, Tourism Vancouver’s vice-president of meeting and convention sales.
He insists it’s worth the effort to woo them.
On top of the direct spending, Gazley says there’s a “spider web effect” where people do business and return to contribute to the economy. Gazley says that’s hard to measure and points to the sharing of knowledge at medical conferences, such as the International AIDS Society Conference in July.
A recent failed bid for a pediatric cardiology convention was a setback, Gazley admits, but says Tourism Vancouver is playing the long game and bidding on major meetings two or three times until they land the contract.
They’ve also convinced conferences such as SIGGRAPH to rebook so the city isn’t just a “one off bucket list destination”.
In January 2016 Vancouver will host 4,000 delegates for the Professional Convention Management Association. Gazley and his team see that as a big chance to secure business for years to come, considering half the attendees are key buyers.