In the tourism and hospitality industry, location plays as important a role as timing. Today, as global events continue to impact the selection of destinations for international congresses of all sizes, Ottawa is ready to welcome the world and has a marketing strategy in place to make this happen.
Global travellers already recognize the welcoming and inclusive nature of Canada and, as its capital city, Ottawa perfectly exemplifies these attributes. “We eagerly welcome people from all areas of the world,” says Nina Kressler, President of Shaw Centre, the city’s premier event venue, named one of the top three convention centres in the world by International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC) in 2014.
Ottawa is very much a multicultural city, with 130 embassies and high commissions located in the region of 1.3 million people. Visiting foreign businesspeople appreciate the opportunity for personal interaction with the local diplomatic community. In addition, foreign-born residents make up almost one quarter of the city’s population, giving the region a truly cosmopolitan feel. Almost 40% of residents speak both English and French.
Kressler notes that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in delivering frequent messages of tolerance and unity, exemplifies the peaceful spirit common among most Canadians. This is a message that resonates with the global community.
The vibrant cultural scene in Ottawa is complemented by the area’s abundant greenspace. Just moments from downtown Ottawa, numerous locations serve as four-season playgrounds, including world-renowned Gatineau Park. “Delegates and their partners who attend events at Shaw Centre frequently comment on the natural beauty of the Ottawa area and the wonderful diversity of activities available,” notes Kressler.
“With our experience hosting the world in 2017 for Canada’s 150th birthday, Ottawa is more prepared than ever to welcome international groups and showcase all we have to offer,” she adds. “At Shaw Centre, for example, events as large as 3,000 people are easily accommodated; our overall building capacity is 10,500. Our menus are often composed of unique Canadian ingredients and we serve up world-class Canadian wines as well. We can easily help arrange delegate activities through our many partners including Ottawa Tourism.”
Ottawa Tourism’s Meetings and Conventions team works closely with Shaw Centre and other meeting industry stakeholders. Their experience and international connections contribute significantly to Ottawa’s strengthened position in the destination industry, as they work to increase and enhance market awareness. “We collaborate to sell Shaw Centre and Ottawa as a destination,” says Kressler.
Read the rest of this article in the next issue of Boardroom, our IMEX issue, out next month.