Victoria looks to attract more events with new sport tourism commission


WATCH: Sport tourism is a $117-million industry in Greater Victoria. Now, Tourism Victoria hopes to score even more major sporting events with a new organization. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

From the TC10K to the Tour De Victoria to major golf tournaments, Victoria hosts more than 100 big sporting events every year. It’s an industry that generates $117-million annually, according to Tourism Victoria. The city is hoping to score even more of them.

“A few years ago, there was only a handful of cities involved and now there’s over a hundred so we really need to up our game,” says Tourism Victoria CEO Paul Nursey.

Tourism Victoria and SportHost Victoria announced Tuesday they are teaming up to create The Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission.

“In order to be competitive against other cities across the country that are obviously wanting to attract the same events as we’re looking for, [the commision] will put us in a much better position,” says SportHost Victoria CEO Hugh MacDonald.

“We’ve been two different organizations working in partnership but it had been a little out of hawk, now that we’re together as one big unit, we can be that much more effective,” adds Nursey.

MacDonald says they already have their sights set on a few events.

“The Invictus Games, the Indigenous, Aboriginal games and even to the extent of perhaps putting forward a bid for the brier,” says MacDonald.

The new organization will work as a division of Tourism Victoria. It is a model inspired by the Seattle Sports Commission.

“They leverage all the expertise and skills and resource of Visit Seattle but they look a little different, they act ‘sportsly’ and they just work together as one big team,” says Nursey.

“Sport really blossomed in our community with the hosting of the 1994 Common Wealth Games and we haven’t had a major multi-sport game since then, although we’ve held a lot of world championships,” says PISE (Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence) CEO Robert Bettauer. “So recent bid attempts outlines the need for us to have a very professional well-resourced commission to be able to compete at that level.”

The new commision kicks off April 1 with a goal of turning Victoria into Canada’s gold medal city for sport tourism.

The Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission will operate out of Saanich Commonwealth Place. Tourism Victoria says it is currently seeking an xecutivee director to lead this new organization.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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