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WIFF drawing tourists and boosting downtown businesses

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The impact of the Windsor International Film Festival is rippling through local businesses in the downtown core.

Craft Heads Brewing Company owner Jason Barsotta says it’s one of the busiest times of the year for some downtown establishments.

“We did expand our hours for the people that are coming in for the earlier shows,” says Barsotta. “And then just in terms of like the beer production, we know because this is one of our busiest weeks we kind of have to keep that in mind and juggle some things to make sure that we have the beer kind of stocked up.”

Barsotta says it’s also nice to see a wide variety of clientele during the festival.

“We really like with because it does bring people downtown that maybe wouldn't have come downtown on their own. And it gives them another option is like a date night or something,” says Barsotta.

Café March 21 coffee shop set up a pop-up location across from the Capitol theatre for the event.

“(Vincent Georgie) let us use the space for 11 days. So we came up like with different menus for the WIFF and setup all the equipment,” says Café March 21 owner Henry Kim.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island CEO Gordon Orr says it’s great that WIFF is in the shoulder season, not the busy summer season.

“It is definitely a tourist draw,” says Orr. “One of our latest statistics that they've shared with us is 17% of their attendees are out of market, which means they're coming here to see the movies and then they're staying here in our hotels, eating in our restaurants.”

WIFF executive director Vincent Georgie says investing more of their marketing efforts outside of the region has helped.

“It’s the reason that we're firmly a downtown festival,” says Georgie. “Because part of the strategy around that is how can this impact all of the hotels, how can this affect the restaurants, the bars, the businesses, the travel, the Via Rail, the cabs the Ubers the whole the whole bit.”

The influx of business and tourists is expected to continue until the festival wraps up on Nov 5.

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