Feature: Party All Year Long
Ottawa tourism expected to soar in 2017
By Jeff Buckstein
Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations are expected to bring an additional 1.75 million tourists to Ottawa, setting the stage for 2017 to be a banner year in more ways than one. “All indicators are that 2017 is going to knock the socks off any previous year in Ottawa,” says Michael Crockatt, president and CEO of Ottawa Tourism. Seven to eight million tourists typically visit Ottawa every year. In fact, tourism is one of the key economic sectors driving this city’s growth. “It is good for job creation, for tax generation, and supporting all the fantastic attractions that exist here,” says Crockatt.
Seven to eight million tourists typically visit Ottawa every year. In fact, tourism is one of the key economic sectors driving this city’s growth. “It is good for job creation, for tax generation, and supporting all the fantastic attractions that exist here,” says Crockatt.
But over and above the usual level of activity, Canada’s milestone birthday will kick the tourism sector into overdrive. Extra visitors who come for the sequicentennial are predicted to generate more than $320 million in direct consumer spending.
The 2017 celebrations are also expected to create an additional 3,000 jobs directly and indirectly.
Guy Laflamme, executive director of Ottawa 2017, hopes that “the halo effect of 2017” will allow many of those jobs to remain for the long term. “We feel we will be able to sustain those results, because of all the visibility we will generate nationally and internationally,” he says.
Laflamme says Ottawa 2017, which is an independent, not-for-profit organization, will generate $40 million worth of new celebration-related activities. The organization received a combination of federal, provincial and municipal funding, as well as funding from the private sector, with key partners including CIBC, Bell, Minto, Gowlings WLG, Stantec, Northern Micro, Roots, and Porter Airlines.
Laflamme credits the partnership with CIBC as key to securing the support of so many other businesses. “Once they came on board all other partners starting confirming their participation as a result of the credibility they brought,” he says.
In major sporting events alone, Ottawa welcomed the Davis Cup tennis match in early February, and will host the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open LPGA golf tournament at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club in August, and Grey Cup festivities at TD Place in November.
In March, the Red Bull Crashed Ice event, which combines skiing and skating in a high-speed race, will showcase the Ice Cross Downhill World Championship—a 300-metre skate race along artificial ice that will extend down the Rideau Canal locks from the lower terrace of the Chateau Laurier hotel to the edge of the Ottawa River.
Also in March, a four-day celebration of the 125th anniversary of the iconic Stanley Cup trophy will start with an event at Rideau Hall, then move to the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park, the oldest building still standing where a Stanley Cup playoff was held.
On the cultural front, an ambient light and sound show is planned near Chaudière Falls, as a tribute to the culture of First Nations Canadians. Through the summer months, Inspiration Village will be established in the ByWard Market, featuring 20 to 30 modified sea shipping containers that will honour each Canadian province and territory. As well, a touring exhibit, called “Odawa—150 Years of Indigenous Perspectives,” will highlight the Indigenous perspective of local history, communities and experiences through traditional and contemporary arts, crafts, and demonstrations.
This year will also feature the opening of the new Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History, a new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature, and a newly revamped Canada Science and Technology Museum.
“In any other city, in any other year, a brand new national museum would be the only tourism story. But here it’s just one of so many great things that are coming to Ottawa,” says Crockatt.
Jeff Buckstein is a Kanata-based freelance business writer.