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Race weekend, other events provide boost to Ottawa businesses this weekend

It’s one of the busiest weekends of the year for tourism in Ottawa, with thousands of people travelling to the national capital for a number of events.

The president of the Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association says hotels in the area are near capacity this weekend, as Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, the Ottawa Redblacks exhibition game, the Great Glebe Garage Sale and other events attract people to Ottawa.

At the Grand in the Byward Market, tourists lined up Saturday for a spot on the patio.

"Sales are always better during the marathon weekend," said David Mangano, owner of The Grand. "It’s one of our busiest weekends of the year and so our sales go up. It’s very busy and it’s very good."

Mangano says sales are up about 50 per cent on Saturday alone.

"It’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the market, so everybody gathers here after the race," he said. "Of course, they all come down the night before to carb up and eat as well.”

The Grand’s management prepared for the weekend by bringing in extra staff members and choosing a condensed menu for the occasion.

Overall, tens of thousands of dollars is being poured into the local economy during the festivities of the weekend, from restaurant and hotel bookings to shopping dollars. 

However, not all businesses are benefiting from the events this weekend. It’s quite the opposite at one flower market stall in the ByWard Market.

"It should be a busy weekend, but it’s not busy at all in terms of sales," said Gabriel O’Brien, who works at the market.

O’Brien said it is likely because tourists don’t typically buy flowers and many local residents are avoiding the traffic jams downtown.

She is hopeful that Sunday will bring back the revenue after a slow start to flower sales this weekend. 

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