With Ottawa’s busy summer tourism season warming up, visitors arriving from both near and far are descending on the National Capital Region.
Some are coming to spend a night with friends or family. Others turn a road trip to Ottawa into a weekend getaway.
But a highly coveted segment of tourists arrive in the capital from more distant parts of Canada, the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. These visitors typically stay longer, shop more, frequently dine out at local restaurants and have a greater overall impact on the local economy.
And they often arrive via the Ottawa International Airport.
“The airport serves the entire region – including the Outaouais,” says Mark Laroche, the president and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority. “Working with partners on both sides of the river to promote the destination is key to attracting international visitors.”
Residents of foreign countries other than the U.S. are the fastest-growing segment of visitors to the nation’s capital, according to Ottawa Tourism. Last year, the number of international visitors grew by nearly 11 per cent, the organization says.
Attracting visitors is a joint effort. The airport is a driver of tourism, stimulating demand for travel and acting as a gateway to Ottawa, Gatineau and surrounding communities.
“Aviation goes hand-in-hand with tourism and plays a key role in the economy,” says Ottawa Tourism president and CEO Michael Crockatt. “It is essential for the tourism industry to work with YOW in supporting air service, and thus welcome even more visitors to Canada’s Capital Region.”
Economic development representatives from both Ottawa and Gatineau sit on the airport’s board, plus Ottawa Tourism and the airport have representation on each other’s boards, further enhancing common mandates – particularly in regards to growing the number of international travellers.
During last year’s Canada 150 celebrations, for many, the Ottawa International Airport was the first point of welcome for visitors and played an essential role as the primary gateway to the festivities. Visitors knew the moment they stepped into the airport that they were in for something special.
For example, 2017 pageantry was displayed throughout the terminal, and technology provided visitors with a glimpse into what the region had to offer, including what events were taking place.
While every organization has a role to play in enhancing visitors’ experience, working together is the most effective means to grow tourism and share the resulting social, cultural and economic benefits with the community.
“As a major gateway into the region, YOW plays a key role in helping attract visitors who contribute to our economic well-being,” says Geneviève Dumas, president of Tourisme Outaouais’ board of directors.