Islands to be promoted at Olympics

  • Nov. 25, 2009 12:00 p.m.

The Misty Isles Economic Development Society is planning to transform a downtown Vancouver hair salon into a miniature Haida longhouse during the Winter Olympics in an effort to attract tourists to the islands. Executive director Travis Glasman said MIEDS is working with Gwaii Haanas, the Haida Heritage Centre, the Skidegate Band Council and other local organizations on the Olympic project. They’ve already secured $25,000 from the Gwaii Trust and are now looking for $75,000 from the Coast Sustainability Trust fund and $20,000 from the Northern Development Initiative. The project will definitely go ahead, as MIEDS has already agreed to lease the hair salon for $15,000 for the month of February. Located in the Hampton Inn and Suites on Beatty Street, the 315 square foot storefront is right across the street from BC Place and should get lots of Olympic traffic walking right by, Mr. Glasman said. The lease was originally secured by the Skidegate Band Council. The band council then approached MIEDS to take on the project, Mr. Glasman said. “It was a unique opportunity to market the islands,” he said. “This opportunity was too good to pass up.” MIEDS is now working with a Haida designer from Vancouver, Gina Mae Schubert, to transform the hair salon into a space celebrating “all things Haida Gwaii,” he said. Local businesses will have the opportunity to rack their brochures or other info there, and MIEDS plans to staff the venue with several “Haida Gwaii ambassadors”. Depending on funding, the staff may be seconded from Gwaii Haanas or other partners, and MIEDS may also seek volunteers from the islands who have a place to stay in Vancouver. “We’re also hoping to build a list of local people who are down there right now,” Mr. Glasman said. The venue will be open from Feb. 14 to 28, the same time the Olympics is on, he said. It could open a week earlier, depending on funding. There will probably be five or six people working there every day it’s open, with two or three inside and three or four out “pounding the pavement… talking Haida Gwaii up,” Mr. Glasman said. The Olympic project also involves the launch of a new website promoting Haida Gwaii, Mr. Glasman said. The goal is to increase tourism to the islands by 10 percent by 2012, he said, with a particular focus on increasing tourism during the spring and fall shoulder seasons.