A free “digital passport” that gives discounts and special offers at more than 60 local tourism businesses is being extended for an extra five weeks after more than 6,000 people signed up for the pass.
Ottawa Tourism said the MyOttawa Pass, which was launched in late June and was originally supposed to be valid until the end of July, will now expire on Monday, Sept. 7. The tourism agency also says an additional 15 offers will be added to the pass later this week.
With the COVID-19 lockdown expected to take more than a billion-dollar bite out of visitor spending in the capital this year, Ottawa Tourism hatched the campaign to give local residents an extra incentive to sample the wide menu of attractions in their own backyard.
Among the most popular deals so far are 35 per cent off a flight over Parliament Hill from Ottawa Biplane Adventures and a $2 discount on admission to the Diefenbunker museum in Carp. Some of the new offers that will debut later this week include a certificate for 10 per cent off at the National Gallery of Canada’s gift shop and a 10 per cent discount on any Ottawa Boat Cruise ticket for tours of the Rideau Canal or the Ottawa River.
Local tourism leaders say the initiative is aimed at kickstarting a local industry that’s expected to take a $1.4-billion hit in 2020 after major visitor attractions such as Bluesfest and Canada Day celebrations were called off in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“As more businesses in Ottawa reopen during stage three of Ontario’s reopening plan, we continue to look to locals to reinvigorate our visitor economy and get out to discover their community, should they have the means,” Ottawa Tourism president and CEO Michael Crockatt said in a news release.
“Ottawa Tourism is working to help Ottawans experience the many incredible activities and services at their doorsteps and encouraging them to invite their friends and relatives to visit and explore the region safely. The #MyOttawa Pass is a key part of this local campaign.”
An estimated 11 million tourists visit the capital region in an average year, but Crockatt told OBJ this spring the city won’t see those numbers again until “beyond 2021.” The city is looking at a range of programs, including a campaign to promote tourism in rural areas, in a bid to reignite the industry.