While the summer months tend to be Canada's busiest for tourism traffic, cities like Vancouver have opened up in the last 12 months as the Asian flu has greatly reduced traffic from the East. The summer months are popular for its nice weather but there are no guarantees, as both Caroline Astell, PhD, and Camille Petrick can attest. Both conference organizers hosted conferences in Vancouver the second week in July this past summer, and both groups hit a rainy spell. Despite the fact that Vancouver had 85 consecutive days of sunny weather beginning the third week of July, "our group just happened to hit a spell of rain," says Astell, a professor of biochemistry at the University of British Columbia and the local organizer for the 17th Annual American Society of Virology meeting.

The Rosemont, Ill.-based American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine brought 1,000 delegates to the city the same week as the ASV. "The rain was definitely a negative factor," says Petrick, the Society's director of meetings. "But we were very impressed with the facilities at the hotels and level of service and the activities that they could do in spite of the weather." Those activities included breakfast with the whales at the Vancouver Aquarium, a visit to the Museum of Anthropology, and a scenic trip on the Royal Hudson steam train. The one aspect of the program that was a challenge: airfares. "The cost of airfare was high in the summer," notes Petrick. "The cruise lines take up a lot of bulk airfares, so many of our delegates either didn't fly direct or paid a premium."

On the other side of the country, weather was a big bonus for the 1,500 delegates who came to Halifax in August for the 8th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology. "The weather was great and the conference also coincided with the annual Buskers Festival, which was an added bonus," says convention chair, Colin Bell, a professor of microbiology at Halifax's Acadia University. As for accommodations, blocks were reserved up to two-and-a-half years out, which is important when planning for the summer months, notes Bell. The convention itself was contained within the World Trade and Convention Centre, which is within walking distance of the city's major hotels. Just about every hotel in the city was used, as were residences at both Dalhousie and St. Mary's universities. Bell says Halifax was a prime destination for this prestigious, international gathering because of its great research and learning institutions and because it offered a great social program as well. "Scientists can be sort of stuffy at times," he concludes, "but Halifax offered a nice, casual, and laid-back atmosphere that went over very well."

For More Information Canadian Tourism Commission Frank Verschuren, meetings & incentive travel program coordinator (613) 954-3947; Fax: (613) 954-3988

Tourism British Columbia Jim Wilson, sales manager, market development, North America (604) 660-2956, (800) 663-6000 Fax: (604) 660-3383 www.tbc.gov.bc.ca

Tourism Vancouver Debbie Reynolds, mgr., convention svcs. (604) 631-2816 Fax: (604) 682-1717 www.travel.bc.ca/vancouver

Tourism Victoria Traci Bouck, manager, meetings & incentive travel (250) 414 6987; Fax: (250) 361 9733 www.tourismvictoira.com

Travel Alberta Joan Wood, sales mgr. of the Americas (403) 297 2950; Fax: (403) 297 5068

Banff/Lake Louise Tourism Bureau Janice Belsher, mgr., mktg. & sales (403) 762-0270; Fax: (403) 762-8545

Calgary Convention & Visitors Bureau Kimberlee Wolfe, manager corporate business travel (403) 263 8510; Fax: (403) 262 3809 www.visitor.calgary.ab.ca

Tourism Winnipeg Richard Smith, sales mgr., mtgs. & conv. (204) 943-1970, (800) 665-0204 Fax: (204) 942-4043 www.tourism.winnipeg.mb.ca.tourismw/

Tourism Toronto Gino Giancola, vice president of sales (416) 203-2600; Fax: (416) 203-6753 www.tourism-toronto.com Tourism Montreal Christiane Beullac, sales manager,

meetings & incentives (514) 844-4400; Fax: (514) 844-5757 www.cum.qc.ca/octgm/

The Tourism and Convention Bureau of the Greater Quebec Area Helene Pomerleau, sales manager, meetings and incentives (418) 522-3511; Fax: (418) 529-3121 www.quebec_region.cuq.qc.ca

Greater Halifax Conventions & Meetings Bureau Cathy Pugh, director of sales (902) 422-9334; Fax: (902) 492-3175 www.meethalifax.com