FlyOver Canada to Grab Cruisers

FlyOver Canada | BCBusiness
A scene from the virtual ride FlyOver Canada, which opens Saturday at Canada Place.

FlyOver Canada is ready for take-off this Saturday at Canada’s busiest port

Vancouver’s FlyOver Canada (FOC), the $17-million privately funded 4-D attraction and the country’s first ever immersive and inspirationally Canadian aerial journey, takes off on the virtual runway June 29, at Canada Place.

Inspired by Disney’s Soarin’ Over California simulated flight ride, FOC was close to three years in the making—including 15 months of filming in over 30 Canadian communities. The project has been financially championed and is wholly owned by Soaring Attractions LP entrepreneurial team Andrew Strang and Stephen Geddes, and the Aquilini Investment Group, all of whom anticipate lasting benefits to the B.C. economy.

“Our economic impact analysis reveals we’ll inject close to $10 million into the local economy and contribute $1.5 million to the tax base in our first year of operation,” says Soaring Attractions CEO Andrew Strang. “We believe we’ll have a significant indirect positive impact on local tourism by incentivizing visitors to extend their stay or even make a special trip to Vancouver.”

Strang also said that during construction the project provided 80 person years of full time employment and contributed almost $20 million to the economy in direct and indirect economic benefits.
Reclaiming the space of the now gutted IMAX theatre, FOC is positioned to capitalize on the steady influx of cruise passengers (Vancouver welcomed 666,240 cruisers in 2012 with numbers projected to increase by 27 per cent in 2013), and concurrently will draw from the potential pool of 8.5 million annual overnight visitors.

“Given the competitive nature of the cruise ship port industry, I think it was visionary of Canada Place and Port Metro Vancouver [to believe in our idea] as we’re now seeing cruise ship lines and passengers looking for entertainment options in the immediate vicinity of the port,” says Strang.

Tourism Vancouver vice-president Walt Judas believes it’s his team’s job, in part, to entice cruise passengers to extend their stay in the city. “Clearly we are looking for more reasons for people to stay longer and spend more time in the city—spend more money.”

As for the projected economic impact for the province, Judas espouses the complex evaluation of one entity. “It’s often hard to quantify because no one thing exists in isolation or is exclusively responsible for economic generation—it’s a multitude of factors,” he says. “However, it gives one more focal point for this particular area as being the sole driver; it’s an anchor tenant, and it is the kind of experience people will stay extra time to take in, not to mention over two million metro Vancouverites—we have a large annual audience to draw from both residents and visitors.”  

As Judas explains, Tourism Vancouver has collected a database that profiles visitors and people’s specific likes. “As we continue to gather information we can be deliberate to marketing to that database, and that’s how we can segment this attraction. This all rolls into our consumer marketing budget, which is a few hundred thousand [dollars] a year.”

The ride also meets the new Tourism Vancouver Master Plan mandate to deliver year-round events and attractions within the community.