Spending by international Visa cardholders at 2010 Olympic Winter Games
surpasses US$20 million on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

VANCOUVER, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - According to Visa Inc. spending by international visitors on Visa at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and in British Columbia exceeded US$20 million on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, an increase of 118 percent over last year.

Between Friday 19 and Sunday 21 February 2010, international Visa cardholders in British Columbia spent US$21.8 million on their Visa credit, debit and prepaid cards.

Over this period Americans spent more in British Columbia than any other nationality (US$12 million), followed by China, the UK, Russia, and South Korea. Visitors from these five countries accounted for more than 72 percent of all international Visa card spend.

The increase in international visitor spending in British Columbia by Visa cardholders continued on Monday, 22 February 2010, when visitors to British Columbia spent US$5.8 million on their Visa credit, debit and prepaid cards, an increase of 128 percent over last year.

For the first 11 days of the Games, international Visa cardholder spending in British Columbia was US$72 million, which is an increase of 84 percent compared with the same period last year. Overall, international visitors have made more than 700,000 transactions since the day of the Opening Day Ceremony on Visa cards in British Columbia. This is an increase of 71 percent when comparing the period this year against the same period last year.

Accommodation, travel, entertainment and retail sales accounted for more than 95 percent of the record number of Visa transactions on Wednesday at merchants accepting Visa in British Columbia.

"From the excitement of Olympic hockey in Vancouver to the skiing at Cypress, visitors to British Columbia are making the most of their Olympic experience, and taking advantage of Visa promotions being offered by thousands of merchants who accept Visa in the Whistler and Vancouver areas," Michael Lynch, head of global sponsorships at Visa said. "The Olympic Winter Games are making a significant impact on the economy here in British Columbia, and it's encouraging that the people coming here are having a great time."

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 - are accepted at all POS card acceptance devices and ATMs in 2010 venues.

At the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Visa has installed 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 is 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 Nancy Panter at (415) 244-9857 or Teri Broughton at (416) 625-6713. 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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