Paul Nursey, chief executive officer of Tourism Victoria, and Robert Bettauer, chief executive officer of the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, flank Hugh MacDonald, out-going executive director of SportHost. A new organization under the name of Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission will lead future efforts to attract sports tourism events to the Greater Victoria region under the auspice of Tourism Victoria. Wolf Depner/News Staff

New Victoria commission will compete for sports tourism events

GreaterVictoria Sport Tourism Commission will take the place of SportHost

A new organization promises to keep Victoria punching above its weight when it comes to attracting sports tourism events.

Officials representing tourism, sporting organizations and the District of Saanich heard Tuesday morning the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission will take the place of SportHost under the leadership of executive director Hugh MacDonald.

The new organization will fall under the auspice of Victoria Tourism.

Paul Nursey, chief executive officer for Tourism Victoria, said sports tourism has become an important driver of the local economy. Estimates peg the total annual value of regional, provincial, national and international sporting events in the Greater Victoria region at $117 million.

Nursey said sports tourism directly benefits the hospitality and transportation sectors, and indirectly other sectors. But the competition for this segment of the economy has intensified in recent years, as the number of competing cities has risen from a handful to more than a 100, said Nursey.

“So we really need to up our game,” said Nursey. “We never need to take any business for granted, like we never do.”

Nursey described MacDonald as a “shop of one” who did a “tremendous job” in attracting events to Victoria. “But he doesn’t have in-house marketing, or legal, or accounting, or research, or sales or social media. Those functions exist within Tourism Victoria.”

Nursey said the creation of the Greater Victoria Tourism Commission promises to create synergies. “We [Tourism Victoria and SportHost] were two separate organizations, working collaboratively the best that we could in parallel,” he said. “And now we are coming together as one entity, which will increase the firepower of our bids.”

Nursey said the organization will retain its sports focus with its own membership, specified authorities, and distinctive brand.

“It will leverage the capacities and organizational strength of Tourism Victoria,” said Nursey. “We have 42 professionals plus in-market representatives, who are actively looking to grow the business every day. And it will live within the legal construct of Tourism Victoria. Before we had two different legal entities.”

Nursey said a yet-to-be chosen committee will control the strategy, annual plan and budget of the new organization, which will have a seat on the board of Tourism Victoria.

“It will provide advice to me as a CEO around sports tourism issues, because we don’t pretend to be experts, and we are excited to learn more about this opportunity,” said Nursey. “We are certainly experts in bidding on conferences, and other major events, but the nuances of sports are something we are going to learn more about.”

It is not clear yet though when the new organization will start to bid for new opportunities.

Nursey said finding a director for the new commission will be the first priority, as MacDonald will retire from his position at SportHost on March 31. The new organization will also look to fill its governance committee, then develop its strategy, said Nursey.

Once these steps are complete, the new organization will be able to focus on future opportunities, he said.

Robert Bettauer, chief executive officer for the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, was among several officials including Coun. Judy Brownoff, who attended Tuesday’s announcement at Saanich Commonwealth Pool. Bettauer, a former tennis pro and current television commentator, welcomes the new organization. It promises to build on past efforts that have allowed Victoria punch about its weight when it comes to attracting high quality sporting events.

For MacDonald, Tuesday’s announcement had elements of a bitter-sweet moment. On one hand, it happened at Saanich Commonwealth Place, the main physical legacy of the 1994 Commonwealth Games, the event that eventually inspired the creation of SportHost. On the other hand, it signalled the pending end of MacDonald’s long professional career in sports and sports tourism, a legacy both Nursey and Bettauer recognized. McDonald, for his part, appeared more than comfortable saying good-bye, calling the new organization a “natural evolution” of SportHost.

Just Posted

After dark: Sandown construction goes overnight

Noise concerns from Sidney could stop nighttime work schedule

Duncan family says care home switched mom’s cat with robot cat

Staff alleged to have said they were taking cat for bath, then replaced her with robotic stuffed toy

BC SPCA proposes fines for animal mistreatment, reduction in commercial trade

Animal welfare group’s ideas brought to Victoria councillors

New Victoria graving dock will offer high-paying jobs

New facility will reuse and treat any water required for repair process

Trial date delayed in case of slain Oak Bay sisters

Case of Andrew Berry, charged in deaths of daughters, will reconvene in three weeks

Photo gallery: Show us your Winter Wonderland!

User submitted photos from around Greater Victoria

Suspect and Mountie bitten by police dog during arrest near Nanaimo

Two suspects were arrested in connection with a stolen pickup truck in Cassidy on Thursday evening

B.C. ski cross racer wins Olympic gold

Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

All aboard! Job fair ports this weekend in Victoria

Find out about the hundreds of jobs in Victoria’s cruise ship industry

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Sooke mom hopeful for funding to treat child’s debilitating arthritis

Jillian Lanthier ‘prays’ for $19,000 per-dose drug for her son

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Saanich steps up recreation registration

Saanich has unveiled its new parks and recreation registration and facility booking system

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Most Read