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Downtown Greensboro’s Passport to Summer goes digital

If your summer dreams include sampling Laotian food, tasting fine Italian wines or touring airy museums, maybe you want to skip the airline reservations and TSA lines for a change of pace. Just grab your “Passport” and head to Greensboro. For the third year, Downtown Greensboro (DGSO) is hosting its Passport program, encouraging locals and visitors to explore the heart of the city. Through August 31, participants can earn prizes by visiting local “ports of call” — restaurants, bars, and shops any number of other attractions about town.

This year, DGSO has gone digital, eschewing the printed passport and physical stamps for an app that gets local adventurers in the game within minutes. “We received feedback from participants over the past two years. People would often say ‘I wish this were on my phone. I forget my Passport, but I always have my phone with me,’ so we took that to heart,” says Director of Operations Julia Roach.

To get started, download the DGSO app from the App Store or Google Play and choose from three passports: Food + Drink, Shops, and Things To Do. Visit one of the participating businesses, and complete the required task to check in and receive a stamp. Six stamps in one of the passports earns you Tourist status with a prize of two Downtown Greensboro koozies. Backpackers (12 stamps) will receive a DGSO T-shirt, while Globetrotters with 20 stamps will get a water bottle and be entered for a chance to win a night out in downtown Greensboro including a stay at the new Hyatt Place hotel.

Alexa Wilde, owner of Antlers and Astronauts on South Elm Street gives her, well, stamp of approval for the program. “It’s not just for people who live in Greensboro. It’s a great resource for anyone in surrounding areas, too. The Passport is like a guidebook to summer.” The program is, of course, designed to boost sales for downtown businesses. And it seems to be working. “All of the people that have checked in so far this year have made a purchase,” says Wilde.

Roach is following the initiative with anticipation. “I’m just really excited to see how people react to the change to digital. It’s given new energy to the project, so we’re really excited to see where it goes from here.” The prizes aren’t the only reason to get involved. On August 2, O.Henry’s own O.Hey is hosting a Passport Party at Preyer Brewing Co., a fitting way to top off the program . . . and snag another Passport stamp. — Annie Vorys  OH

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