Speech to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada Annual Conference
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Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to welcome all of the delegates from across Canada to Ottawa and thank David Goldstein and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
As Canada’s only national organization representing the full cross-section of the country’s $74 billion tourism industry, your work on behalf of Canadian tourism businesses promotes positive measures that help the industry grow and prosper.
As former President and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with your organization on a number of occasions.
And I know just how important your work is in our country.
Tourism is a very significant industry in Canada.
This is also true of our city.
Tourism is the third largest industry in Ottawa after the public and high tech sectors.
In 2007 alone, 7.8 million tourists visited the Ottawa area and spent more than $2.2 billion.
As the nation’s capital, we start from a position of strength when it comes to tourism.
Ottawa is home to a number of national and international cultural and heritage attractions.
As the historic seat of our national government, we have so many gifts here left to us by previous generations of Canadians.
– The Rideau Canal
– The ByWard Market
– National Museums such as the Museum of Civilization, Canadian War Museum, and the Museum of Natur
We also host more than 35 major festivals each year, including:
– Canadian Tulip Festival,
– Canada Day,
– The Jazz Festival; and
– The Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival.
Ottawa’s tourism industry does well.
But this doesn’t mean that standing still is an option.
Standing still means falling behind…
So we must always be creating new opportunities and exploring new endeavours.
And that means creating events that draw tourists to our region at low times of the year…initiatives like the Bell Capital Cup that attracts young hockey players and their families from around the world is one example.
Back in May, I was pleased to join the announcement that Ottawa will host the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championship of Hockey.
The tournament will attract more than 200,000 fans to 21 games and inject up to $20 million into our local economy.
And the provincial championships held at the same time will add an additional $15 million in economic activity to our City.
This is great news for our merchants, our hotels and our restaurants.
In January, Ottawa will host the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, and we are currently bidding to host the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in 2014 and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
We will continue our strategy of aggressively bidding on such events because they pay dividends for our local economy.
They also strengthen the Ottawa brand across our country and the world.
Events like the 150th birthday of our country need to be the subject of a focused team effort to make sure Ottawa is the national and international destination of choice for a celebration to remember for the next 150 years.
We have a lot of new tools available to us to help grow our tourism sector.
The momentum is building and there is a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
– The new Ottawa Convention Centre is a spectacular and cutting edge facility that will draw business visitors from across the country and around the world.
– We are renewing Lansdowne Park…which will play host to fantastic events and will spark a whole new set of possibilities for our community.
– We are renewing public transit with a major upgrade to a modern rapid light rail service that will reduce bus traffic on downtown streets and deal with the bottleneck in the core.
– This past June, I was part of a tourism delegation that visited China for the Beijing International Tourism Expo 2011…renewing Ottawa’s Sister City relationship with Beijing and promoting Ottawa as a preferred destination for tourism, post-secondary education and investment.
– We will also work closely with the Ottawa Convention Centre to secure a new 400 to 500 room marquis hotel complex in the downtown core to support the growth of our convention centre.
Each of these projects is a powerful economic driver both in the short-term and in the long-term, as they secure tremendous benefits for the community for many decades to come.
And those are just a few examples of the hard work the City has been doing on the tourism front.
I am extremely committed to the tourism sector in Ottawa, and I look forward to working with many of you to capitalize on the many great things our city has to offer.
I wish you all a very productive, successful and memorable conference.