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Workshops set to help businesses tap the Olympic Games market

BELLINGHAM Whatcom County Tourism has launched an initiative to help its business partners prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.
The 2010 Winter Olympic Games is set for Feb. 12 - 28 and will be followed by the Paralympic Winter Games, also in Vancouver, March 12 - 21.
Just news reporters themselves will bulk up the local economy, with about 10,000 media representatives expected to attend along with 1.8 million ticket-holders, many of them tourists from around the world.
When people travel to see the Winter Olympics they also want to see some of the surrounding sights, said Steve Brenk, board chair of Bellingham and Whatcom County Tourism, and general manager of Bellinghams Best Western Lakeway Inn.
Whatcom County is ideally situated because were between the international airports in Vancouver and Seattle. Also, currency rates are extremely favorable now for Canadian, Asian and European tourists visiting the United States.
The Winter Olympics Service Initiative will help any business that wants to develop its management personnel, improve customer-service skills and learn marketing strategies, according to Loni Rahm, president and CEO of BWCT.
It will particularly assist companies that want to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the 2010 Winter Olympics, Rahm said.
Training workshops for business participants are being developed by Bellingham-based Evergreen Team Concepts (www.etcwa.com) and its president, Henry Beeland saw firsthand how some businesses reacted to the opportunities and challenges posed by the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
If Northwest Washington is prepared to reach out to these visitors and meet their unique needs, this region can reap the benefits of increased tourism for years to come, Beeland said.
BWCT will present four workshops per year in 2008 and 2009 to members participating in the Winter Olympics Service Initiative.
Workshops will cover many topics, including customer-service training, team building, telephone skills, marketing strategies, diversity and culture awareness, and understanding the needs of visitors. Participants also will have access to up to four additional audio and/or Internet training events each year that will be led by national business experts, plus quarterly Internet forums.
Other benefits include a quarterly e-newsletter covering Winter Olympics business topics, plus international marketing efforts in coordination with Ferndale-based PRWeb that highlight participating businesses.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism will offer the Winter Olympics Service Initiative to its 400 members at a substantially reduced rate of $149 per year or $249 for two years. BWCT also will make the training program available to its economic development partners from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. on a space-available basis.
For information check out the Web site at www.bellingham.org.
For information about participating in the Winter Olympics Service Initiative, call Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism at 360-671-3990 or 800-487-2032.

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