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Vancouver takes the gold on the road

Marketing showcase in San Francisco will feature a zipline and aboriginal dancers.
Flying high over Vancouver's Robson Square

Flying high over Vancouver's Robson Square Sue Frause

Although the flame of the Olympic torch has long died out and Vancouverites are back to their post-Olympic lifestyle, the 2010 Winter Games live on.

British Columbia's Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts has sent its province on the road to San Francisco. With a unique showcase headquartered at Embarcadero Square, the tourism marketing campaign, called "BC Experience," will highlight the best of B.C., today (April 8) through April 18.

No surprise that the centerpiece is something sporty: a 600-foot zipline. As one of the most popular activities during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the attraction drew thousands of high-adrenaline types who waited in line for up to eight hours to experience their inner zip above Robson Square. Not this self-proclaimed Closet Canuck; the closest I got to zipping was with my Canon PowerShot.

Two gold-medal winning Olympians, Canadian ski cross racer Ashleigh McIvor and U.S. speed skater Shani Davis, will be the first to try the zipline in San Francisco today. Other B.C. Experiences at Embarcadero Square include free performances by the Le-La-La Dancers; an Aboriginal dance troupe from the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwak Kwak kee wak) Nation of northern Vancouver Island; an interactive video display highlighting all things beautiful in B.C.; and a 3-D art installation. Playing throughout the city's transit stations will be an updated version of You Gotta Be Here, a television advertising campaign that featured such Canadian luminaries as Michael J. Fox and Sarah McLachlan.

So why San Francisco? According to Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, the city by the bay is one of British Columbia's key markets for attracting new travelers. Plus, approximately 14 percent of U.S. visitors to B.C. are from California. The post-Olympic North American consumer marketing campaign is also utilizing online advertising and social media and focusing on everything from golf and outdoor adventures to food and wine.

Running in conjunction with B.C. Experience in San Francisco is the annual U.S. Media Marketplace, where more than 150 U.S.-based travel writers and editors meet with tourism representatives from across Canada. I'll be there, but don't expect me to do any zipadedoodah stuff.

Sue Frause is a Whidbey Island freelance writer and photographer. You can reach her at sue@suefrause.com.


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