By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL and IAN WHEELER / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Irvine has long been pitched as a less expensive, nearby stay for tourists interested in visiting the beaches or theme parks nearby.

It's about to get more ambitious.

To kick off the new year, the Irvine Chamber of Commerce's tourism engine, Destination Irvine, will roll out a new long-term strategy to market the city itself as a destination, part of Irvine's ongoing pursuit for the elusive weekend traveler.

The city's 14 hotels serve a healthy flow of visitors Sunday through Thursday, because when ...