Nearly as long as the country allows, my journey to Vancouver USA was 3,000 miles of anticipation and excitement from the East Coast. Upon arrival, I have been continually impressed by our vibrant downtown, stunning views on the waterfront, cascading waterfalls in the Gorge and beaches along a new ocean — the whole area is a breath of fresh air. While I’ve only been in my new position as the president and CEO of Visit Vancouver USA for a little over seven weeks, I am enthusiastic and encouraged from what I’ve experienced so far in this community.
As nature pulls me to parts of the Pacific Northwest region outside of Clark County, sports tend to bring me in. There is something intangible about watching a football game at a bar with other fans or sitting on the sideline bleachers that makes you feel a part of the close-knit happenings of a city – sharing similar sentiments with complete strangers as the football soars through the uprights or the soccer ball hits the back of the net with a swoosh.
Sports also draw in participants, as well as the families of those athletes. Close to a quarter of the groups that work with our business development team are sports groups, and we see the potential to create an even greater economic impact through marketing youth sports in the region.
We also know that sports is a sector that is less vulnerable to economic downturns than many other markets. A trip to an amusement park may wait, but soccer tournaments don’t take a year off, and are critical to youth development and emerging athletes.
Visit Vancouver USA is currently in the process of working with Huddle Up Group, a sports tourism, venue and event consulting company, to conduct a sports feasibility study for the area. The study will explore ways in which the city can develop sports tourism, expand the impact of existing events and position ourselves as a sports destination.
The first stage of the work has already been eye-opening. It has identified the strengths of our passionate community and event organizers. It has also exposed our weaknesses when we compare ourselves to competitive destinations in the region.
The study will ultimately yield a set of recommendations, which we will look to prioritize and begin implementing over the next year. We look forward to partnering with our fellow leaders in the community to make the most of these recommendations, and continue to have sports bring the community together and bring visitor dollars in.
I adopted the Seattle Seahawks as my favorite NFC team to root for several years ago as my dad moved to the area. Along with my cheers for the Blazers and Timbers, my local Pacific Northwest pride continues to grow louder. And win or lose, I love being in Vancouver USA.
Cliff Myers joined Visit Vancouver USA, the official destination marketing organization for Vancouver and Clark County, as CEO and president in September 2019. He can be reached at cmyers@VisitVancouverUSA.com.