Olympic Winter Games opening day spending gives multi-million dollar boost to

VANCOUVER, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - According to Visa Inc., international visitors to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games have had an immediate impact on the local economy.

Nearly US$5.2 million were spent on Visa cards on the Opening Day of the Games in British Columbia. The money spent by visitors on their Visa credit, debit and prepaid cards on Friday, 12 February 2010, showed an increase of 46 per cent over the same day last year.

Opening Day's biggest Visa spenders were from the US, followed by China, the UK, South Korea, Australia, and Hong Kong. Visitors from these six countries accounted for more than 70 per cent of all Visa card spend on Opening Day.

"With more than 5,000 merchants accepting Visa in the Whistler and Vancouver areas and the more than 800 point-of-sale acceptance devices we have installed in venues, the Olympic Games allow Visa the opportunity to extend its Olympic sponsorship to benefit its financial institution clients, their merchants and millions of Visa cardholders," Michael Lynch, head of global sponsorships at Visa said. "These expenditures are an excellent example of the acceptance, reliability, safety and convenience that Visa cardholders enjoy no matter where they use their cards."

Not surprisingly, Visa cards were used primarily to pay for accommodation and to make retail purchases. Visa has partnered with Tourism Vancouver and Tourism Whistler to promote both domestic and international travel to the areas and provide Visa with the opportunity to increase prominence in the important Vancouver market. For Visa, these partnerships further demonstrate its commitment to the travel and entertainment sector by adding key markets into its mix of destination marketing alliances.

"By harnessing our global reach, marketing experience and customer relationships, Visa is in a unique position to create short- and long-term value not only for the host city, Vancouver, but for many of the markets in which we do business," Lynch said. "One of our goals for these Olympic Winter Games is to leave a legacy of improved infrastructure and higher Visa penetration of products and services in the Canadian marketplace."

    Top Ten Visa Card Spenders by Country/Territory on Day One of the Games
    Throughout Vancouver/Whistler
    Ranking          Country/Territory                       Total spend
    1                United States of America                $2.3 million
    2                China                                   $395,000
    3                UK                                      $290,000
    4                South Korea                             $220,000
    5                Australia                               $213,000
    6                Hong Kong (China)                       $209,000
    7                Russian Federation                      $180,000
    8                Japan                                   $177,000
    9                Brazil                                  $105,000
    10               Germany                                 $98,000

Visa has been a Proud Worldwide Sponsor of the Olympic Games for 24 years and is the only card accepted at Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games venues for any official Games-related transactions. Only Visa card products - credit, debit, prepaid and Visa electron cards - will be accepted at all POS card acceptance devices and ATMs in 2010 venues.

At the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Visa installs a special ATM network and more than 800 point-of-sale acceptance devices at competition and non-competition venues, including the Main Press Centre, the International Broadcast Centre and the Olympic and Paralympic Villages in Vancouver and Whistler.

For the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Visa's Global Consumer Assistance Centre will be staffed with multilingual Visa personnel who can provide a variety of card payment related services. These include replacement of lost or stolen cards, Visa Travellers Cheques or Visa Travel Money. Visa cardholders may call 1- 800-847-2199 or 1-800-VISA-199 for assistance. Other services provided include information about and help with lost/stolen passports, police and hospital services, shopping, transport, dining and tourism, and ATM locations.

About Visa

Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks-VisaNet-that is capable of handling more than 10,000 transactions a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.

SOURCE VISA Canada Corporation

For further information: For further information: concerning Visa and the Olympic Games, please contact Teri Broughton at (416) 625-6713, tbrought@visa.com or Janine Allen, (416) 645-3657, janine.allen@fleishman.ca; More sponsorship information is available at www.visa.com/olympicmediakit; Current Visa Go World advertising, video, and photo materials are available at www.thenewsmarket.com/visa

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