Plan to use cruise ships for lodging at Vancouver Olympics is dead in the water

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cruise ships will not be used for Olympic lodging

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — An Olympic accommodation plan in which thousands of visitors would have stayed on cruise ships has been called off because of the rough economy.

As many as seven ships would have been used for fans and sponsors as part of the multimillion-dollar plan proposed by the DEAP Group.

“Financing became a major problem with the economic downturn and unfortunately that has been an Achilles’ heel to the DEAP Group since that time,” said company president Greg Peart. “We’ve never been able to recover from that.”

Beyond the economic climate, the expected demand for lodging in the Vancouver-area has yet to materialize with the games less than 90 days away.

There are approximately 32,000 hotel rooms in Vancouver’s lower mainland and about 10,000 beds in Whistler.

The majority have been reserved for sponsors and Olympic officials, as well as support staff such as security personnel and government workers.

Even so, there are still rooms available and other options such as RV parks, one cruise ship and private homes.

Of the 350 spots for recreational vehicles available at two Vancouver beaches, 210 sites are still available, said Raymond Chan, a vice president with Tourism B.C.

The Norwegian Star cruise ship, which was not part of the DEAP deal, had to revamp its structure and pricing in order to attract clients.

There is still space available, the company said on Thursday, with prices starting at $650 per cabin per night.

On the 2010 Destination Planner Web site run by the province’s tourism groups, there are over 2,300 hotel rooms available throughout the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the Sunshine Coast, Chan said.

There are also 526 condos and private houses available in the district. Another program called Home for the Games, which is asking private homeowners to rent rooms and turn some of the profits over to the charity, had 86 listings throughout the Lower Mainland.

“There is going to be ample room for all our visitors coming to British Columbia no matter what type of choice they may want,” Chan said.

Up in Whistler, the situation is slightly different.

They’re now at about 90 percent capacity, said Tourism Whistler’s Casey Vanden Heuvel, with a few hundred rooms still available for about $500 per night.

“We’re happy that we’re at the percentage of bookings that we’re at,” he said, noting it was higher than bookings near the mountain resorts hosting the 2002 and 2006 Winter Games.

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