British Columbia

Crime proves expensive for Vancouver convention centre

Vancouver's reputation for crime and panhandling could damage the city's convention business, says the president of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Vancouver'sreputation for crime and panhandling could damage the city's convention business, says the president of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Barbara Maple says the organizers of oneconference recently cited crime as their reason for rejecting the city.

"We have had conventions that have remarked on it and that's something new for us," she said. "And we've actually had a group that went away because of it."

Maple says convention planners go through a complex decision-making process when deciding on a city, adding that the safety of delegates is an important consideration.

She says Vancouver is becoming known for crime at a time when the city is facing increased competition from other convention centres.

"New centres everywhere are showcases, [with] high-quality finishes and services that rival luxury properties of any kind."

Earlier this summer, The Economist, one of the world's leading business publications, cited the downtown panhandling and drug addiction problems as issues that threatenedVancouver's livability.

B.C.'s capital city has also lostbusiness because of its street scene.

The manager of Victoria's Fairmont Empress Hotel said last month he lost a $200,000 conference because conference organizers were disturbed by the city's aggressive panhandlers.

Roger Soane said the delegation from Washington, D.C., had compared Victoria's Government Street to Vancouver's troubled Downtown Eastside, which is home to widespread drug abuse.

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