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Tourism SeaWorld cancels Vancouver stop upon whale’s departure

N.Y. Firm Involved in Local Tourism Contracts Donates $25K to SDSU

SeaWorld San Diego’s traveling promotional campaign, based on VW Beetles rebuilt to look like killer whales, won’t be heading to Vancouver, which has become a sensitive market in recent weeks.

The Canadian city’s sole killer whale was donated to the Mission Bay theme park last week, provoking a fair amount of controversy among Vancouver residents.

According to a park spokeswoman, Vancouver had been tentatively scheduled for April 22 on the theme park’s list for its “Shamu Across America” campaign, in which various cities are visited by Volkswagen Beetles painted and rebuilt to look like killer whales.

However, the 22nd turned out to be the day that killer whale Bjossa was transported to SeaWorld San Diego. The female Orca was donated by the Vancouver aquarium, which decided that companionship could be a remedy for her ailing health. Bjossa’s longtime mate died four years ago.

According to various sources, Bjossa has been flooded with visitors during her final weeks in Vancouver. At times, the park has had to turn away guests.

The “Across America” awareness program came from the Mission Bay park’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis, where owner Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. is based. In each city, park representatives have organized events ranging from client luncheons to school visits.

The park is not disclosing the cost of the campaign, which the company has split into eastern and western tours.

SeaWorld San Diego’s public relations department is handling the Western states part of the marketing push. Other cities in the tour include Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Bakersfield in addition to Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Ore., Tucson and Yuma, Ariz., and Tijuana.

SeaWorld has two sales programs that could lure Vancouver residents to visit Bjossa.

Members of the Vancouver Aquarium can visit the park for free through July 31. The aquarium has an estimated 55,000 members.

Also, SeaWorld is again planning to have its “Canada at the Park” promotional program, in which Canadian visitors pay the park’s admission fees by the rate of the Canadian dollar rather than the U.S. dollar.

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Name Recognition:

A Buffalo, N.Y.-based company that won the concessions contract for the new Padres ballpark and plans to bid on the job at Bazaar del Mundo has made its first big donation in San Diego , $25,000 to SDSU’s new tourism and hospitality business program.

Delaware North Cos. Inc. is reportedly evaluating “several business opportunities,” said Bernie Rhinerson, who represents the company locally.

Among them is Old Town restaurant and retail hub Bazaar del Mundo. The request for proposals is expected to go out next month.

Delaware North bid on, but did not get, the five-year contract for the Del Mar Fairgrounds. In January, it went to locally based Premier Food Services, Inc.

Checking In:

Carlsbad-based Waterford Development Co. will develop a 108-room Hampton Inn in a business park in South Poway. According to Waterford managing director Mark Burns, the project’s details have yet to be finalized but the hotel could end up costing $10-11 million. For now, the hotel is planned to open in the summer of 2003. The San Diego Zoo hopes to generate some extra attention as part of a national marketing campaign of The Container Store, which is based in Dallas. The campaign is centered around a sweepstakes contest. To get involved, marketers at the Zoological Society agreed to donate a trip to San Diego and admission to the zoo and Wild Animal Park. Joseph Tripi, executive chef at the San Diego Morton’s of Chicago, was recently hired for the same position at Prime 10, the steakhouse opened last year by La Jolla-based Ladeki Restaurant Group. Before Morton’s, Tripi was executive chef at the Houston’s Restaurant in Irvine. At Prime 10, Jim Phillips had completed his assignment as the restaurant’s corporate chef, setting up the menu concept and kitchen operations, and is now reportedly considering similar options with a couple of establishments in North County.

The deadline for the next tourism & hospitality column is May 3. Rodrigues can be reached at (858) 277-6359, Ext. 107, or via e-mail at trodrigues@sdbj.com.


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