Ottawa

Province cuts $3.4M from Ottawa Tourism

Ottawa Tourism says it will have to cut back on some planned marketing and development initiatives after learning the province has cut 15 per cent of its overall funding.

Organization says the money accounts for 15% of its budget

Ottawa Tourism says it will have to put off some marketing and development projects due to the loss of provincial funding. (CBC)

Ottawa Tourism says the province's $3.4 million cut to their budget is "significant" and will force them to modify their programs in the upcoming year.

Michael Crockatt, the president of Ottawa Tourism, said it's 15 per cent of the organization's budget. 

"There's a few things, for sure that, we will have to defer to future years," Crockatt said. 

"There's a lot of things that we have to consider in terms of our overall structure, cost structure and and the programs that we're putting in place. There's something that we intended to do this year and we just won't be able to do."

Crockatt said he wouldn't comment on possible job losses, but said the organization will be putting off a planned logo redesign. 

He said the provincial funding also paid for Ottawa Tourism's work promoting and developing destinations in the United Counties of Prescott-Russell, which will no longer be part of its core mandate.

It's now getting no money from the province.

Change in focus?

The majority of the organization's funding comes from within Ottawa — 73 per cent from the municipal accommodation tax and the rest from a combination of municipal grants and other private partnerships.

"Our expectation was there might be some cutbacks; we were surprised there were actually cutouts, meaning a 100 per cent cut," said Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association.

Ball said Ottawa Tourism will need to review its spending so it focuses on municipal priorities, since that's where the majority of the organizations funding will come from.

He said perhaps spending to promote the provincially-owned Shaw Centre might need to be reviewed along other items.

"It's a pay-as-you-play world, if it's primarily municipally-driven, we'll focus on municipal expenditures first."

Ottawa Tourism is leading the effort to bring La Machine and other popular 2017 events back to the capital. The organization says some of its new projects are on hold as a result of provincial funding cuts. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Ball said he understands the province is trying to tame a $15 billion deficit. He said the local tourism industry is looking forward to Ontario's new tourism strategy.

Tourism Toronto also lost $9.5 miilion in funding in the same round of cuts as Ottawa, leading the opposition NDP to call the decision "short-sighted" because investing in tourism makes the province money.

A spokesperson for the minister of tourism, culture and sport said the government's new tourism strategy will be rolled out in the coming months.

"We are taking real action to boost Ontario's tourism sector and will ensure value for money in our tourism investments, so we can do what's right for the people of Ontario," Brett Weltman said in a written statement.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who headed the Canadian Tourism Commission from 2000 to 2003, offered Ottawa Tourism some reassurance.

"These cuts will certainly affect Ottawa Tourism's ability to grow this important sector of our economy going forward," Watson said.

"Thankfully, Ottawa Tourism can count on a strong municipal accommodation tax funding model, in partnership with the city and local hotels. This reliable funding ensures that Ottawa Tourism can continue to deliver successful sales, marketing and destination development initiatives."

About the Author

Matthew Kupfer

CBC Reporter

Matthew Kupfer has been a reporter and producer at CBC News since 2012. He can be reached at matthew.kupfer@cbc.ca and on Twitter @matthewkupfer

With files from the Canadian Press

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