OTTAWA -- The City of Ottawa is hoping you will get out and explore rural areas of the capital this summer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee received an update on a planned City of Ottawa tourism campaign that will encourage residents to explore rural Ottawa once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Under the plan, the city would promote rural tourism ideas for residents in Ottawa and Gatineau by providing suggested itineraries and promoting rural cycling routes throughout the summer.

“It’s a very hyper-local campaign,” said Sheilagh Doherty, Program Manager, High Economic Impact Projects.

“We’ll be looking to stimulate the rural economy by encouraging our local residents to get out and explore the rural areas.”

Other goals of the campaign include strengthening rural tourism attractions with local demand and promoting rural cycling.

Doherty says the campaign will be launched in two phases, with the first phase highlighting rural cycling routes and rural experiences to explore. The second phase of the plan will align with the Ontario Government allowing more businesses and restaurant patios to open.

“We’ll be looking at actively encouraging residents to get out and explore the rural areas, again in a safe way,” Doherty said.

Residents will be encouraged to support local businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions..

The campaign will include a promotional video, a photo contest for each of the rural wards and content on the City of Ottawa’s social media channels.

Last week, Mayor Jim Watson told a town hall meeting that the City of Ottawa will be encouraging Ottawa residents to enjoy a “staycation” this summer and fall, and support local businesses reopening during the pandemic.