Now more than ever is a great time for Vancouver meeting planning. Vancouver was chosen as the host city for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games - with good reason. The demand for Vancouver event venues has consistently risen in the past decade, due to the city's unique attractions, beautiful landscape, magnificent cityscape and its spectacular convention centre.
The award-winning Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre features more than 150,000 square feet of exhibition, ballroom and meeting space, as well as 13,000 hotel rooms within walking distance. Its current expansion efforts will triple the size of the existing facility to more than 500,000 square feet of flexible function space by spring 2009. The centre received the Apex Award for "World's Best Convention Centre" in 2002 and was named a finalist in 2004. It has hosted such high-profile events as the World Buddhist Convention, World Culinary Arts Festival, 1993 Clinton-Yeltsin Summit and the XI International Conference on AIDS. Such high profile events have bolstered Vancouver event planning.
In preparation for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, multiple meeting-friendly developments are underway in Vancouver. Nearly 1,500 additional hotel rooms will be completed by 2009, increasing the total number of downtown Vancouver hotel rooms to nearly 15,000. Vancouver International Airport, Canada's 2nd busiest airport, is undergoing a $1 billion expansion and upgrade program, which will expand its International Terminal and Link Building between the Domestic Terminal and International Terminal.
Amidst the upcoming renovations, Vancouver has much to offer its visitors. Downtown Vancouver provides a spectacular view of the North Shore Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and Vancouver Harbour, and is not only safe and exciting, but also easily accessible. The city's excellent public transit system offers bus, rail and ferry services that extend to the greater Vancouver area. Thrill-seekers find an adventure on the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a walk able 450-foot-long bridge that sits 230 feet above the Capilano River, while nature enthusiasts will no doubt want to make a stop at Stanley Park, one of the world's largest public parks at 1,000 acres. The University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology is home to 535,000 ethnographic and archeological objects, and the family-friendly Science World features the world's largest domed movie screen.
Vancouver serves as the regional headquarters for several major corporations, including the Business Council of British Columbia, lumber powerhouses Canfor and West Fraser Timber, Cytvia Software, Inc., and HSBC Bank Canada. It is also home to Simon Fraser University, Dorset College and the University of British Columbia
Drivers' licenses from the United States and other countries are valid in British Columbia for up to six months, making some of the travel logistics in Vancouver meeting planning a bit easier to work with. To enter Canada, citizens or permanent residents of the United States must bring a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport or green card. Proof of residence, such as a driver's license, should also be carried, but is not acceptable as a proof of citizenship. All international visitors must bring a valid national passport and in some cases a visa.