Obama gets a formal invitation to visit Cape Breton during Ottawa trip

The invitation from Destination Cape Breton was hand-delivered to the president on Wednesday.

President mentioned island by name during state dinner in March

President Barack Obama smiles as he walks across the tarmac upon his arrival on Air Force One in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

The president of the United States and his family have formally been invited to visit Cape Breton.

The invitation was hand-delivered on Wednesday during President Obama's visit to Ottawa. It comes from Destination Cape Breton, the island's tourism association. 

CEO Mary Tulle says she was prompted to issue the hand-written invitation following Obama's mention of Cape Breton during his state dinner in March for Prime Minister Trudeau.

The note thanks Obama for recognizing the people of Cape Breton in his speech. 

"On behalf of the people of Cape Breton Island, please know we would welcome you to come and visit our island and play on our world-class golf courses anytime," the invitation reads.

Local handbags given to Obamas

Along with the invitation, handbags made in Cape Breton were sent along for Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia. They were made by local company Michique, which creates one-of-a-kind purses.

Tulle says Cape Breton—Canso MP Roger Cuzner worked with the Prime Minister's Office to ensure that the delivery could take place.

Mary Tulle of Destination Cape Breton with the Michique handbags sent to Michelle Obama and her daughters. Sophie Trudeau was also sent one. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Cuzner said his office was able to get the handbags and invitation to Obama's staff. 

"When the president of the United States comes to town, there's a pretty significant support staff," Cuzner said. "That's who we got it to, so I'm sure we'll get a response."

Tulle says she's hoping the Obamas will "visit our special island and not just golf, but tour around." 

Trump bump

During his speech in March, Obama recognized the people of Cape Breton after the website CBIfTrumpWins.com went viral. 

"Where else would we see a community like Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, welcoming Americans if the election does not go their way?" Obama told the White House dinner guests.

The website was created by Sydney radio personality Rob Calabrese on a lark, but has been visited by more than a million people so far. Tulle says the so-called "Trump bump" is having a positive impact on the summer tourism season. 

She says statistics released by the province this week show a 12 per cent year-over-year increase on room nights sold in Cape Breton, compared to a one per cent increase for the province overall. 

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