While the pandemic halted tourism around the globe, the strong team dynamic and spirit at Ottawa Tourism has been an asset to Ottawa as the city has weathered challenging times and is now poised for rebuilding and growth.
“We are thrilled to see the vibrancy and dynamic events that are coming back to the city post pandemic,” says Catherine Callary, vice-president of destination development at Ottawa Tourism.
Recent initiatives from Ottawa Tourism are dedicated to keeping the momentum going by supporting Ottawa’s local businesses and promoting the best attractions to make Ottawa one of Canada’s most vibrant and visited tourist destinations.
Supporting Ottawa’s local businesses
The success of Ottawa’s tourism industry relies greatly on the success of local businesses. For this reason, Ottawa Tourism is dedicated to helping local businesses rebuild and thrive while recovering from the pandemic.
“In addition to having a barrier-free, no cost membership program available to tourism-facing businesses, Ottawa Tourism also works with businesses in our area to build the competitiveness of our destination through a range of product development and experience development initiatives,” says Callary.
And on top of their local initiatives, the Ottawa Tourism team has continued to nurture global partnerships as well.
“The Paris-Ottawa flight on Air France this summer, the investments Porter has made in our destination, the announcement of the World Juniors coming to our city, and the positive momentum around our festivals and events this year, are all great examples of business and vibrancy coming back,” added Callary.
“But we know there is still a lot of work to be done, especially with socio-economic impacts left in part by the pandemic, before our city can truly say we’ve recovered.”
One recent initiative was the Tourism Relief Fund, and then there is the on-going Destination Development Fund, both of which invest millions of dollars into Ottawa’s local businesses to help them create new and compelling experiences to attract tourists to the city.
The spirit of Ottawa Tourism
Another determining factor in the success of Ottawa’s tourism industry and surrounding businesses is the innovative, supportive and dedicated team at Ottawa Tourism.
“We are so proud of this team that has bolstered the industry through tough times, and is now looking forward to the future and to continuing to build Ottawa into a vibrant and thriving destination that will attract people who want a great place to live, study, work, and play,” says Callary.
Manager of people and culture at Ottawa Tourism, Nicole Picton, also describes the culture of Ottawa Tourism as creative but also data driven.
The combination of these two qualities helps them make measurable impacts on Ottawa’s tourism industry while giving their staff creative freedom and support.
“We allow for a lot of flexibility in people’s work and allow people to be creative,” says Picton. “That helps them develop better marketing ideas or better sales strategies to attract people to the destination.”
For example, employees in various roles have started to experiment with making Instagram reels to highlight different tourism destinations around Ottawa. These videos allow staff to use their creativity, however, the team also monitors the metrics of their posts to see which posts do best and can attract the most people to the city.
The team continues to work to encourage a positive view of careers in tourism following the toll of the pandemic, and is immensely proud of this and other organizational culture awards Ottawa Tourism has recently won that show the community the incredible experience that can be had as a member of the organization and by extension in the tourism sector.
The road ahead
In the coming years, Ottawa Tourism wants to unite Ottawa’s local businesses, attractions and residents to support Ottawa’s economy and draw tourists to some of the city’s best attractions.
Recently, Ottawa Tourism has also launched a 10-year initiative called the Destination Stewardship Plan which was developed using the perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders in the community and intends to make Ottawa one of the most visited, vibrant and valued cities in Canada.
“This plan embodies the considerable outreach and perspectives of multiple stakeholders in our community,” says Callary. “It is a 10-year roadmap for Ottawa to grow as a destination and also as a great city.”
Ottawa Tourism continues to plan campaigns to draw in visitors by promoting both Ottawa’s most well-known attractions like the national museums while also drawing attention to local businesses and hidden gems like the “Unofficial Museum of Pizza by the Metre”, such as in its recent “Unofficial Museums” campaign.
“We’ve been very focused on keeping the momentum going and moving forward on the pieces of this plan that our organization is in a position to lead,” says Callary. “Our whole team is dedicated to advancing this plan and has a role in its success.”
And, as events and festivals continue to return to the city, the tourism board’s sights are now focused firmly forward on what the future holds for the capital.
“We’re no longer just in survival mode,” adds Callary. “We’re looking to build and help make Ottawa the best version of itself that we can as a community.”