BUSINESS BEAT: Be a Tourist spotlights city for 41st year

Annual Attractions Victoria promotion and fundraiser has expanded over the years

While the annual Flower Count is aimed at promoting the mild climes of Greater Victoria outside the region, Be a Tourist in your own Hometown primarily targets locals who can then talk up attractions to their visitors.

The 41st annual tourism booster and fundraiser for Attractions Victoria runs now through Sunday. With a $10 booklet price that includes free admission to a variety of attractions, including Butchart Gardens, the event promises to see thousands of area residents flock to the Inner Harbour and beyond.

“Last year we sold about 10,000 tickets and so far this year preliminary sale have been strong,” Attractions Victoria chair and Butterfly Gardens general manager David Roberts said earlier this week. “We always try to keep the offers new and exciting.”

As well as the free tickets, the booklets include special discounts for other attractions, retailers and hotels. They are available at the Visitor Information Centre, 812 Wharf St., all Thrifty Foods and Shoppers Drug Mart store and other locations. Visit attractionsvictoria.com for a full list of participating merchants, ticket outlets and other information.

Proceeds from Be a Tourist funds Attractions Victoria’s downtown ambassador program and marketing efforts.

Local news feeder inks deal with NASCAR

SendtoNews, the Victoria-founded digital sports news agency, has signed a worldwide deal with NASCAR to provide news outlets with packaged race highlights from its Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.

The deal was announced on Sunday to coincide with the running of the Daytona 500, the first collaboration between SendtoNews and North America’s largest racing organization.

“This deal enables us to guarantee our media and advertising partners complete highlights of NASCAR and multi-year access to one of the largest and most engaged audiences in pro sport,” SendtoNews CEO Greg Bobolo said in a release.

SendtoNews debuted its digital multimedia platform with the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler. Visit sendtonews.com for more information.

Island Savings to move into former Macaroni Grill

After nearly 20 years as an anchor tenant inside Mayfair Centre, Island Savings Credit Union is packing up and moving – across the parking lot. The institution is taking over the former Macaroni Grill space on the northwest corner of the mall property, a 7,700 square foot space that will be customized to match Island Savings’ more contemporary theme. The move, due to be completed by November, is part of a major expansion by the company, which has recently opened branches in Duncan and Tuscany Village in Saanich, and is renovating a former Blockbuster Video space on Fort Street.

Mountain biking industry leaders gathering in Sooke

The movers and shakers in one of this province’s most rugged outdoor sports will congregate in Sooke this spring. The B.C. Mountain Bike Tourism Symposium brings industry leaders and stakeholders together at the Best Western Prestige Oceanfront Resort to work on unifying the voice of the industry in B.C.. Participants in the May 26 to 28 event include the Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association, Recreation Sites and Trails B.C., Tourism B.C., International Mountain Bicycling Association Canada, Royal Roads University and the District of Sooke. To register or to find out more details visit mtbtourismsymposium.ca.

Joe Fresh apparel unveiled at Uptown

Expect a mob scene when Fashion, active wear and beauty accessories retailer Joe Fresh opens its first store in Greater Victoria next Thursday (March 7) at Uptown. As a gatecrasher special, the first 100 people through the doors for the 10 a.m. opening will receive a $50 Joe Fresh gift card. The chain, a subsidiary of Loblaws Companies Ltd., has more than 300 stores in Canada.

Names in the business news

The provincial and federal governments have awarded hundreds of Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals  in B.C., but one handed out last week was particularly poignant. Architect Nick Bawlf, who was well-known in Victoria for his work restoring downtown heritage buildings, was awarded his medal posthumously. Accepting the medal for Bawlf, who died last August, was longtime partner fellow heritage advocate, Victoria Coun. Pamela Madoff … Victoria-raised business leader Lindsay Dodd was recently elected chair of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

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