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‘Take over the city’: Massive technology summit coming to Vancouver in 2025

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Big tech conference coming to Vancouver
North America's biggest tech conference is coming to Vancouver, but concerns are being raised there aren't enough hotel rooms for the 35,000 attendees. Aaron McArthur reports. – Jun 13, 2024

Vancouver will be hosting a massive North American version of the global technology conference called Web Summit in May 2025.

It will be the first North American flagship event in Vancouver and will be replacing the existing Collision summit in Toronto.

Organizers said the event has a focus on connecting and supporting the “global technology ecosystem.”

“We can’t wait to gather the tech world and take over the city next year,” Paddy Cosgrave, Web Summit’s founder and CEO, said.

“Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities with a flourishing tech community that connects the Americas, Asia and the West Coast. The time has come to transition Collision into Web Summit.”

Over the past two years, Web Summit has created three other events around the world including in Rio, Qatar and Lisbon.

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Web Summit said by the end of the year, it will have drawn more than 160,000 attendees at its events for 2024.

For Vancouver, it is estimated to bring in roughly 35,000 people.

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The company said the Vancouver event will help foster growth in the industry locally, something already happening naturally in the international port city.

According to Web Summit, Vancouver is home to more than 11,000 tech companies and ranks first in high-tech job growth in North America.

“B.C. has a 30-year track record of creating and advancing world-class technologies,” B.C. Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation Brenda Bailey said.

“We want to scale up our ability to commercialize innovation and translate these successes into a sustainable competitive advantage for our provincial economy.”

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Destination Vancouver anticipates that Web Summit Vancouver will generate $172 million in spending and $279 million in overall economic impact for B.C. over three years.

“We knew Vancouver was the right place for Web Summit,” said Royce Chwin, Destination Vancouver’s president and CEO.

“A transformational event of this calibre will continue to build our reputation as an exceptional host city and sharpen Vancouver’s global destination competitiveness.”

Chwin said the summit will not only just be focused on technology at the event itself, but will also spur events around the city and will blend technology with culture.

He also said the summit will boost other local industries at a time of need like tourism and hospitality.

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Web Summit expresses its events have played “critical roles” in bolstering the tech landscape in its host cities and countries.

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In Toronto, Collision brought in $189 million in economic impact over the last three years. It is projected to bring in an additional $77 million in its last event next week.

With the new event drawing thousands of visitors into Vancouver, it is leading to the question of hotel capacity.

Vancouver has a significant hotel shortage, and according to Destination Vancouver, in 2002 Vancouver had 15,000 hotel rooms. By 2022, that number had shrunk to just 13,000.

While the City of Vancouver has partnered with the group bringing the conference to the West Coast, building hotel capacity is something the city says it is well aware of.

“We have moved a number of motions at Vancouver city council, including at looking at opening up the ability to have hotels beyond the downtown core,” Vancouver councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung said.

“(We) are looking at the ability for mixed use and buildings. We recently approved a motion to enable pod hotels.”

There are new hotel projects on the books, including 14 in various stages of development, three under construction and one set to open this year, adding 107 rooms.

Pod hotels would see vacant offices converted to hotel spaces.

The pod hotel concept, which originated in Japan, features small, bed-sized rooms that offer cheaper, basic overnight accommodations. While the city has moved to prioritize new hotel construction, councillors said those projects are years from completion and that smaller-room accommodations such as pod hotels could help meet the near-term pressure.

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Destination Vancouver said the region will also have to take up the slack.

“We (will) need to use the entire palette of the region to house all the people including the island, Blaine and Bellingham,” Chwin told Global News.

Officials hope that with the event scheduled for May, a typically quieter month for hotel usage, it will help with capacity.

The exact dates have not been announced.

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