After 29 years in California, the influential TED Conference will make the move to B.C. in 2014, with keynote events scheduled for Vancouver and Whistler, according to an announcement from organizers Monday (Feb. 4).
Citing a need to go global, the flagship TED event is moving the conference from its usual home in Long Beach to the West Coast, where it will likely stay through 2020 according to local promoters.
Organizers of the non-profit event that brings together some of the world's foremost speakers and thinkers were looking to better position themselves as a global brand, and approached local business and tourism leaders last year, who have been working on bringing TED to B.C. for months.
"We put together a combination of concessions with the hotels and Vancouver Convention Centre, as well as partnership investment dollars," said Greg Klassen, the Canadian Tourism Commission's (CTC) senior vice-president of marketing strategy and communications in a press release. "The cash contribution derived from the consortia of the CTC, Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Hotel Destination Association is a partnership. It allows our partnership to leverage the TED brand with that of our own."
TED announced that the conference will be held March 17 to 21, 2014 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, with a satellite event, TEDactive, to be held in Whistler.
Chris Anderson, a magazine publisher whose non-profit company, The Sapling Foundation, oversees the TED Conference, called Vancouver “one of the world's greatest cities, combining a thriving culture of innovation with glorious nature," in the release.
Anderson hopes to create a "TED city enclave" between the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Pan Pacific, Waterfront and Pacific Rim hotels where most of delegates are expected to stay.
The move to host the wildly popular conference fits with national tourism leaders hopes to make Canada an attractive locale for international meetings and conventions. A recent tourism industry roundtable attended by senior government officials and industry leaders like Tourism Whistler president Barrett Fisher identified the need to attract more large-scale meetings and conferences to B.C. as a primary objective moving forward.
According to industry figures, meetings, conventions and incentive travel attracts close to two million visitors each year to Canada, with total spending of $1.7 billion—almost 24 per cent of all money spent by inbound overnight travellers.
Klassen and the CTC sees the benefits of hosting TED as larger than a simple hike in tourist numbers, however.
"Through TED and other influential conferences we will be able to achieve Canada's economic and social goals through possible direct foreign investment, foreign education in Canada and investor-class immigration," he said in the release. "The war on international talent is massive. It's through conferences like this that we can secure a world-class engineer or scientist and bring them and their family here to create here. That's the bigger payoff."