Ottawa sees large business events bookings up 220% in Canada’s 150th year

National tourism board, Ottawa Tourism, has reported a sharp increase in large-scale business events (with over 500 delegates) choosing the Canadian capital for their congresses in 2017, the year in which Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary of confederation.

In January this year, 45 large-scale events were booked in to Ottawa for 2017, representing an increase of 220% over the comparative figure for 2015.

The agency says the rise in bookings comes on the back of significant investment in the destination and, in particular, the development of the city’s purpose-built convention centre, Shaw Centre, which is celebrating its sixth year in 2017.

In recent years, billions of dollars have been invested in infrastructure and facilities in the city, including a CAN$863m (US$647.8m) renovation of Parliament Hill’s West Block, extensions to Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) and a major investment of $725m in redeveloping Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International airport.

Michael Crockatt, president and CEO of Ottawa Tourism, says: “We have been steadily building on our strong reputation for hosting outstanding large-scale international congresses in Ottawa and we are excited about this continued growth. Ottawa is firmly on the map when it comes to large events, whether association or corporate, and we have had the privilege of working with some amazing events over the last few years who have enjoyed extremely productive and popular events in our city.

“As we are now in Canada’s 150th year of confederation, the development is only getting bigger and better, with a celebratory year ahead that will benefit our meetings offer significantly in terms of a rich programme of events and investment in facilities. We know that 2017 is a great year for events in Ottawa, and the numbers are already reinforcing that premise.”

Nina Kressler, president and CEO of Shaw Centre, adds: “Shaw Centre has played a pivotal role in accommodating many of the large-scale events that have been attracted to our great city. Since we opened in 2011, our business events portfolio has grown tremendously and we are proud to be a part of such an amazing destination at this historic and exciting time. The investment in our city and facilities continues, which will be of significant benefit to the many business events that choose Ottawa.”

In 2016, 31 large-scale business events were held in Ottawa, with corporate events representing approximately 15% of the total. International events continue to show the biggest increase year on year. Association events held in Ottawa in 2016 include One Young World, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the World University Service Canada International Forum.

In 2017, Canada will celebrate its 150th anniversary of confederation with a vast array of events, celebrations and investment planned across the country.

In Ottawa, a rich programme of activities is under way throughout the year, including Ignite 150, a series of 17 epic stunts and gatherings throughout the capital including: a yoga session on a barge floating down a local waterway accompanied by a live orchestra; a movie on a downtown terrace rooftop; and Canada’s Table, an outdoor dining experience featuring all-Canadian dishes served by the country’s top chefs to 1,000 guests, with Parliament Hill’s Sound and Light Show as a backdrop.

The 150th anniversary celebrations also include a series of legacy projects for Ottawa, such as: the new Global Centre for Pluralism; a new Canada Science and Technology Museum which is set to open in November 2017; a new, permanent Arctic Gallery for the Canadian Museum of Nature; and the new Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History.


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Paul Colston

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