Volume 93, Issue 19

Thursday, September 30, 1999



Waterloo set to join Travel Cuts lawsuit

Referendum motion denied

Third party to mediate negotiation

CSIS gets go-ahead from above

Tourism study to track homecoming cash

Vanier Cup scores rent break


Caught on Campus

Tourism study to track homecoming cash

By Nina Chiarelli
Gazette Staff

Western's Alumni Association has announced plans to remind London how important the university is to them.

At a press conference held at the Bank of Montreal Alumni Centre yesterday, Susan Horvath, director of alumni relations and development, said Tourism London will be surveying the economic effects of Western's Homecoming '99 events on the city of London.

"Homecoming has a huge economic impact on London and it would be great to quantify it," Horvath said. "We want to demonstrate to the city of London that a university of this size contributes a lot."

This year is a special milestone for the association, Horvath said, as the weekend's celebrations mark the 50th anniversary of Homecoming at Western. "We've got one foot in this century and one foot in the next," she said.

Mike Harris, manager of Tourism London, said his company is responsible for conducting the survey work as a charitable contribution to study what Homecoming generates in terms of an economic impact. "We want to get a handle on it from event to event."

The work benefits everyone involved, Harris said. "The university made a $500 donation to help purchase the computer program we use," he said.

He added Tourism London has been conducting surveys such as this all summer. "We surveyed 11 or 12 events this summer like Sunfest, the Air Show and the Head of the Thames Rowing Championships."

According to Harris, Tourism London is planning to hand out surveys and conduct man-on-the-street interviews at various locations during Homecoming weekend. "We want to have 500 hundred surveys to input into our system," Harris said.

He added the information will then be fed into the Tourism Economic Assessment Model, a program which will calculate the amount of money spent both inside and outside of the community.

"It allows us to ask a series of questions to patrons, input the information into the program and then generate the numbers as to what the economic impact was on London and Ontario," he said.

This is the biggest Homecoming Western has ever expected, with thousands of alumni expected to return, Horvath said. "We have 92 reunion classes planning to get together."

While the city is expecting to be as busy as ever, Harris said he did not think the surveys would be affected by the large influx of people.

"The total number of people might be bigger, but it won't affect our results," he said, adding while the football game will definitely be packed, the stadium can only hold a specific number of people.

Western's VP-administration, Peter Mercer, said he thought the idea was useful as it lets the community know Western's vital role. "It helps us to maintain our public profile with the community."

Although he is expecting a record number of alumni, Mercer said he did not think the results of the survey would be skewed or inaccurate.

He added even though this is the last year for J.W. Little Stadium, Western will remain as popular as ever. "I think you'll still see interest."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999