A Main Street business shows its new hours cut back due to COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 31. The Arctic Winter Games, scheduled to happen in Whitehorse March 15 to 21, was the first of the territory’s major events to cancel due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Over $9 million of economic activity projected for cancelled AWG

Up to 2,000 athletes and 900 visitors were expected

A new assessment has revealed the economic loss caused by the cancellation of the 2020 Arctic Winter Games (AWG).

The AWG host society, the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) and the Yukon’s Department of Economic Development worked together to produce the economic impact assessment.

Up to $1.4 million was linked to “direct visitor spending.” The games were expecting 1,953 competitors as well as 900 visitors. Up to 32 local jobs were projected to be created with an estimated $9.96-million worth of economic activity in the Yukon, $9.19 million of it in Whitehorse specifically.

There was supposed to be $3.2 million worth of salaries. The 900 visitors were projected to spend an estimated $1.47 million.

The event itself was to have an impact on the country’s, territory’s and city’s gross domestic product. Canada was to see $6.1 million, $5.7 million for the Yukon and $4.4 million for Whitehorse.

The games were projected to generate $1.3 million in taxes across the country.

These numbers were reached using the CSTA’s impact modelling tools.

Moira Lassen, the AWG general manager, said this is the first time an assessment like this has been done for an Arctic Winter Games that was cancelled. She explained there had to be a pivot from how assessments were previously done, since they usually are done for events taking place.

She was surprised to see the projection of 900 visitors.

“That number was a pleasant surprise,” Lassen said.

She explained that 900 would have brought $1.4 million in spending, which would have covered meals, lodging and any other shopping.

She said the impacts went well beyond what was estimated following the cancellation.

“I think there was more impact than we anticipated,” Lassen said.

She said that it would be apples-to-oranges to compare these projected numbers to previous years, where the games actually took place.

She pointed out that this year’s games were the first international multi-sporting event that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She clarified the assessment is not the financial outlook for the host society; the finances for the society are being wrapped up.

“We (the society) feel we are doing well,” Lassen said.

The games were set to kick off on March 15 but were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the recommendations of the Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com

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