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WJC Playmakers: Marsha Walden

The president and CEO of Destination B.C. talks about working with the Playmakers group, and the potential economic impact of the World Juniors across the province

Jessica Gowans
September 14, 2018

Leading in to the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship the host committee has formed the Playmakers group, bringing together business leaders from across B.C. to serve as event ambassadors and strategic advisors, as well as serving as a connection to local partners and businesses in Vancouver and Victoria.

The Playmakers will help share the message from Hockey Canada and the host committee, and support initiatives around community engagement and the benefits of hosting the World Juniors in their backyard.

This time, sat down with Marscha Walden, the president and CEO of Destination B.C.

Q: Why is it important for you to be involved in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship?

MW: I have both personal and business reasons. From a personal perspective, I’m a huge hockey fan. I had three kids that played hockey, so I love to be involved in sport at the development level. From a business perspective, it’s these kinds of events that really give us an opportunity to showcase what British Columbia has to offer to people around the world. There’s an incredible television audience that watches this, there’s a lot of sports media and travel media that pay attention to the World Juniors, and it’s a chance for us to seed the sporting events with visuals of what it’s like to visit here.

Q: What are the benefits of hosting the World Juniors in British Columbia?

MW: There’s the direct economic benefit, of course, that comes from hosting major sporting events. We know that sport tourism in B.C. brings about $300 million annually into our economy so there are benefits to all parts of our province, and certainly an event of this magnitude adds a lot to that total number. There are those immediate benefits, but there are also the longer-term benefits of showcasing the province to people, getting visitors here in the immediate term to then go home and talk about the great experiences that they’ve had. Often times, word of mouth is what brings future visitors to our province.

Q: How will the World Juniors affect tourism in British Columbia?

MW: I think that we will see a nice lift over the Christmas period or post-Christmas period when we have the tournament here. Certainly the players bring a big entourage of coaches and families, but also it’s going to draw people from around the region into Vancouver and Victoria to participate; they’ll stay overnight a couple of nights, they’ll explore up and down the island and in and around the region of Vancouver, so I think we’ll see benefits that extend far beyond the couple of hours that they’re spending in front of a game.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the Playmakers group?

MW: Playmakers is really about getting the business community behind the games. Certainly, for markets like Vancouver and Victoria, that’s not a particularly hard job. Most business people know the benefits of bringing sports into our communities and they’re eager to find a way to help support events. It’s really just about rallying interest and helping them use sports as client-hosting opportunities and using sport hosting as a way to amplify in and around Vancouver and Victoria with their own clients, which has downstream benefits for things like meetings and convention business. When their own clients and business partners see what our province can offer, they start thinking about us for multiple reasons.

Q: What is your connection with hockey?

MW: I wasn’t a hockey player myself even though I was a bit of an amateur athlete in high school. My two daughters and my son played hockey, we’re big fans of NHL hockey, and when the World Juniors were here in 2006, my husband and I took in quite a few of the games. Post-Christmas every year we’re some of those fans that are plunked in front of the TV, recovering from Christmas and enjoying the games. I have a lot of interest in the sport, and as a business it’s a great opportunity for us to continue to strengthen tourism.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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