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
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, HockeyCanada.ca 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
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
Q: What are the benefits of hosting the World Juniors in British
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.