Thursday, October 25, 2012

'Floriade 2012' gives Taiwan chance to bloom

Taiwan's pavilion won an international competition for indoor exhibits at the just-concluded Floriade 2012 World Horticultural Expo in Venlo, the Netherlands, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.

During the exhibition season, which ran between April 5 and Oct. 7, signature Taiwan-grown flowers and plants, including Phalaenopsis, Oncidium, Paphiopedilum and Cymbidium orchids, lucky bamboos, flamingo lilies and Malabar chestnuts, were put on display, the council said in a statement.

Taiwan's flower exports totaled US$175.9 million in 2011, up 17.65 percent from the previous year, according to the council. Flower exports to Europe totaled US$35.32 million last year, a year-on-year increase of 50.88 percent.

The Floriade is held every 10 years in the Netherlands. This year's event was attended by more than 2 million visitors.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Flora Niagara 2017 wants $100 million public money

A photo of one of the venues built for the Floriade 2012 International Horticultural Expo in the Netherlands. Photo courtesy Sarada Krishnan, Denver Botanic Gardens

The man in charge of the bid to bring the International Horticultural Expo to Niagara Falls in 2017 says he needs a $100 million commitment from the government by March.
Michel Gauthier, the director of Flora Niagara 2017, said he needs to know by next spring whether or not the various levels of government will help pay for the biggest garden event in the world.
“There comes a point you have to make a decision,” he said. “Our objective is that by the end of March we'll have some sense of security.”
Earlier this week, the International Association of Horticultural Producers approved Flora Niagara's bid to host the 150-day-long expo.
In its bid, which cost nearly $500,000 to put together and submit, Flora Niagara said it believes it can draw between two and three million visitors to the event and generate an economic impact of more than $830 million.
It would employ about 600 people during the show itself, but nearly 7,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created as a result of building and hosting what is the biggest horticultural event in the world.
However, the price tag is enormous.
Speaking from The Hague, Netherlands, where the 2012 Horticultural Expo is being held, Gauthier confirmed organizers need to come up with between $200 and $360 million.
This year's show in Holland cost around $200 million, but the 2011 event in Xi'an, China cost $500 million and the 2010 show in Taiwan cost $400 million.
“Usually (the funding) comes from government involvement because the whole idea is promoting and developing the horticultural industry,” Gauthier said, adding the the Dutch government covered $100 million of the cost to host the 2012 event.
He said in Ontario, there are 70,000 people working for some 10,000 companies in the horticultural industry.
The Flora Niagara director believes his organization can cover about $50 million of the cost through admission fees and another $50 million through corporate sponsorships.
That leaves a $100 to $260 million shortfall, which Gauthier wants the local, provincial and federal governments to cover.
“We have to show the government this is about the economic development of two industries that are crucial to Niagara and Ontario,” he said, referring to horticulture and tourism. “This event will generate a lot of jobs and infrastructure.”
Asked about the federal government's interest in backing the event financially, Niagara Falls MP Rob Nicholson issued a statement saying the organizers will need to go through the typical funding request channels.
“I certainly recognize the enormous potential that this international event will have in further promoting Niagara and Canada as a truly unique cultural and tourist destination,” he said. “Plans for Canada's 150th anniversary are in the preliminary stages. However, any group that would like to access federal funds are more than welcome to send in an application for consideration."
On Thursday, Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor said it will be tough for the provincial government to commit to any financial support.
“There are more pressing needs and we have a financial situation we're trying to deal with,” he said.
At the municipal level, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati also said it's unlikely there will be a big cheque from city hall to help cover the costs.
“If it comes down to a choice between a hospital and a floral show, I'll put my support behind a hospital,” he said. “Of course, if the federal government is looking to fund this as one of Canada's marquee sesquicentennial events, I would rather it be in Niagara than elsewhere.”
Asked if the city would make any sort of financial contribution, he said it would ultimately come down to a vote by city councillors.
“We give money to Niagara Falls Tourism and to the Winter Festival of Lights and that's really the extent of our tourism money. This isn't typically something we would fund,” he said.
Gauthier said the next step in the planning process is to put together a business plan.
“I would think November is when we'll make sure we have the business case developed in detail so we can show what the potential is,” he said, adding that if Flora Niagara doesn't have a financial commitment from the government by the end of 2013, “we'll need to ask if we can delay the event by a year.”
International Horticultural Expo
Year    Location    Cost            Attendance
2012    Holland     $200m        3 million (closes Oct. 7)
2011    China        $500m        10 million
2010    Taipei        $400m        8.9 million

Niagara wins right to host $360 million floral

Niagara has had its bid accepted to host the 2017 International Horticultural Exhibition, which will be a 150-day event expected to draw more than 2 million visitors and generate an economic impact of more than $800 million.

Special to The Review
An artist rendering of one of the Flora Niagara displays planned for the 2017  International Horticultural Exhibition. The organizers won the right to host the event, which could cost as much as $360 million to put on.

But while the bid alone cost nearly a half million dollars - $250,000 of which was paid for by taxpayers through the Tourism Partnership of Niagara – hosting the event will cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This is a showcase of the community with horticulture as the base,” said Tony DiGiovanni, the executive director of the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association, which is part of the organizing committee and covered $175,000 of the bid costs. “Niagara has been a pioneer in the horticultural industry and now it's time to showcase it.”  The organizers believe 2017 is the best year to host the annual event because it falls on the year of Canada's 150th birthday. 
Flora Niagara, as the event is being billed, will be held over 150 days during the late spring, summer and early fall.

It will be held mostly on Niagara Parks Commission land, which would see massive changes and enhancements to the areas around Dufferin Islands, the Floral Showhouse, Oak Hall and the Rapidsview parking lots. Additional venues would also include the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton and the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.

However, if the complete set of venues and infrastructure projects were to become reality, the total cost would be $360 million. “It doesn't have to cost that much, but we said 'this event is going to be a catalyst, so we asked for the wish list',” DiGiovanni said, adding that the 2012 International Horticultural Exhibition currently being held in Holland cost around $200 million to host.

The minimum cost without making any major improvements or adding new facilities would be $50 million, he said.“But if you want to do something on a world-class scale, you need at least the $200 million,” said DiGiovanni.

As for the obvious question of who would cover those costs, the organizers are hoping the federal government will pony up some of the money to make this one of the biggest events on the 150th anniversary calendar. They're also counting on gate revenues in the tens of millions of dollars from an expected crowd of more than two million people, and big corporate sponsorships.

“We have to get as many people together as possible and figure out how to raise the money to get this thing built,” DiGiovanni said. The Niagara Parks Commission has already told the organizers it's willing to host the event, but can't afford to help pay for it.

Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor said it's also unlikely the provincial government will help foot the bill.“There are more pressing needs and we have a financial situation we're trying to deal with,” said Craitor, who initially supported the idea, but has now taken it a step back. Asked if the $250,000 spent on the bid by the provincially-funded Tourism Partnership of Niagara was a good use of the agency's money, he said: “the answer is no.”“To put a bid in without being sure we have a commitment from the major funders … that's a lot of money to spend,” Craitor said. “If you don't have a commitment, it's not a good way to spend the money.

”Tourism Partnership CEO Robin Garrett, who just returned to Canada from the International Horticultural Exhibition in Holland defended the bid. “I think it's important for us to be looking at blockbuster events that grow tourism,” she said. “In this case it's purely an economic benefit and with anything that is economic, you need to invest to get the return.

”Garrett said all levels of government should see the event as an opportunity.“I know there are some critics out there,” she said. “Some will say there are other pressures on governments right now, but in order to pay for some of those social programs we all want, you need to invest in making money.

DiGiovanni also believes the investment will be worth it in the end. The Flora Niagara bid boasted of an $831 million long-term economic impact along with 6,566 new jobs, $117 million in government tax revenues and growth in both the horticulture and tourism industries.

“What's left is a legacy,” he said. 
“This will attract millions more to Niagara and will extend the brand again and will remind people to come back.”