The Celebrate NL strategy for attracting major sport events

By Angela Kryhul

Marble Mountain Resort

Eighteen months ago, Celebrate NL was born. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador created this new crown corporation to attract major events—including high-profile sport competitions—and to develop celebrations within the tourism, culture, arts and recreation sectors.

Celebrate NL offers resources and services to event rights holders and actively supports destination management organizations during the bid process. STEVE CROCKER, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation spoke with Adrenalin editor Angela Kryhul about how Celebrate NL will help the province to be more competitive when bidding for major events that have positive long-term economic, social and cultural impacts.

What led to the creation of Celebrate NL?

Pre-Celebrate NL, there wasn’t a part of this government department that was doing this type of work. We will always support the destination management organizations, but I feel we weren’t an active contributor.

We wanted a small but nimble body that could work with destination management organizations to promote Newfoundland and Labrador on the sporting stage, conventions, meetings and other opportunities to bring people into our province.

Rebuilding sporting events is so important for our visitor economy, the hospitality industry and so on. We felt that this is an important market to be in, and even more so coming out of COVID. It’s extremely competitive. [Destinations] really are aggressive in looking for those opportunities to keep their hotel rooms and their hospitality industry full.

How involved is Celebrate NL in the actual bids?

Celebrate NL is constantly looking for opportunities but there is a very close dialogue with our destination management organizations—we’re all working together. So if a sporting organization reached out to the city of Corner Brook, for example, we would certainly, through the destination management organization or the city, be there to help them formulate a bid. Celebrate NL provides a substantial contribution towards bids when we go out and bid on different events.

Are the efforts around Celebrate NL bearing fruit?

One of the things we learned early on with Celebrate NL is that this has to be a long-term vision because these [events] don’t get delivered overnight. They’re four, five, six years out, especially if you look at national events in Canada. It does take time to actually bear the fruit of the hard work.

We’ve got a great opportunity with hosting the 2025 Canada Summer Games to highlight some of our facilities here in St. John’s and the eastern part of the province. That event will leave some infrastructure that currently doesn’t exist, for example, a new track and field facility. We’re looking now beyond 2025 and the [new bidding] opportunities that will be created by having new facilities.

Fast Facts: Celebrate NL…

  • helps organizers secure financial and logistical support, and provides a channel to trusted strategic partners to help plan and implement events;
  • synergizes efforts with partners in areas of mutual strategic importance, including STEP St. John’s (Sport Tourism Event Partnership), which champions regional sport tourism;
  • played a lead role in the delivery of the Come Home 2022 campaign, which invited expats, their families and others to revisit the province. The initiative sparked new events in over 170 communities province-wide.

Published September, 2023

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