Ottawa tourism still getting Canada 150 boost, officials say

Ottawa is still reaping some benefits from Canada 150 celebrations and tourism marketing in 2017, according to Ottawa Tourism.

'We're all very pleased with that and I think the worry is now down'

Ottawa Tourism says numbers are up this year compared to 2016, which it says was also a record year. (CBC)

Ottawa is still reaping some benefits from Canada 150 celebrations and tourism marketing in 2017, according to Ottawa Tourism.

"Tourism has been excellent this summer. We have seen growth in terms of what we would consider a normal year, 2016," said Catherine Callary, the agency's senior director of destination development.

There has been a nearly two per cent increase so far this year from the same period in 2016, Callary said. Officials are comparing to 2016 because Canada 150 promotions made 2017 an atypical year.

"But it was already a record year in 2016 so to see growth on top of that is very good news," Callary said. 

Catherine Callary with Ottawa Tourism says there was some concern about what would happen in 2018 after Canada 150 promotions in 2017, but that the agency is pleased with the numbers so far this year. (Radio-Canada)

'Industry of course held its breath a little bit'

Some people were worried about how well tourism would do after the big push in 2017, she added.

"We knew [2017] was always going to be a very special year. There was so much investment, so many new events, so much focus on Ottawa. The industry of course held its breath a little bit, [about what was] going to happen in 2018," Callary said.

"What we've seen so far is that we've held our own … We're all very pleased with that and I think the worry is now down, which is great." 

Attractions such as Le Boat and Mosaïculture are helping, she said.

Choosing Canada over the U.S. could be a factor 

Ning Wang, who was visiting Ottawa from Delaware in the U.S. on Monday, usually travels around his own country but chose Canada instead this summer. 

"My daughter, she said Ottawa is a wonderful place," Wang said.

"People are nice, [the] place is beautiful."

Ning Wang, from Delaware in the U.S., usually travels around his country but chose to visit Canada this summer instead. (Pierre-Paul Couture/CBC)

Ottawa Tourism said it has heard about some people choosing to travel Canada over the U.S., but said it's too early in the season to tell what kind of impact there might be, and that it might be difficult to qualify with numbers. 

"It is something that we have observed in social media primarily, comments of people deciding to choose Canadian destinations, so we're again monitoring the situation," Callary said. 

"Certainly, tourism is one of those industries where people can speak with their dollars and it is a disposable income type of industry and so people are making decisions on where they want to be based on lots of different factors. Some of them could be U.S. factors."


Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.

With files from Radio-Canada