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Ottawa's tourism sector 'recovering faster' than expected this spring

Ottawa Tourism says it has been an encouraging start to the tourist season in Ottawa, after the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the "toughest years" in the history of the travel and tourism sector.

"In 2023, we are recovering faster than we forecast that we would," Ottawa Tourism President Michael Crockatt says.

"We are approaching our 2019 levels of visitation through the metrics that we can see. Maybe not quite ready to say that we're there yet, but it really is encouraging to see some of those indicators back to where they were."

May has been a busy month for the Ottawa tourism sector. The Canadian Tulip Festival says 500,000 people visited the festival over the 11-day event earlier this month.

This weekend, more than 27,500 people participated in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, providing a boost for hotels, restaurants and other businesses. The president of the Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association told CTV News Ottawa on Saturday that most hotels in the area were near capacity for race weekend.

In addition to the festival, school trips have resumed in Ottawa, with tour buses full of students and teachers spotted across the city this spring.

Speaking with Newstalk 580 CFRA's CFRA Live with Andrew Pinsent, Crockatt says it has been a welcome boost for the tourism industry.

"It feels really good for our industry after a few very, very difficult years for businesses and workers in our industry," Crockatt said Sunday.

"To see the crowds at the Tulip Festival, to see the buzz in the ByWard Market this weekend – it's fantastic and really rewarding for all those people who grinded it out through the toughest years in the history of our industry."

Crockatt says leisure travel has been doing "really well" so far this year, and this week will see of the "biggest events of the year" in Ottawa with the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries trade show, CANSEC, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, Crockatt says there is one section of Ottawa's tourism industry that is slower to recover.

"The one thing we've continued to see sort of lagging is some of that, I would call, independent business traveller," Crockatt said.

"A lot of those people used to come to Ottawa to meet with government folks in their offices, and if the government folks aren't in the offices as much then fewer of those people are going to visit."

Summer events like Canada Day celebrations, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa Jazz Festival, the World Rugby Pacific Four Series, Volleyball Nations League and other events should attract more tourists to Ottawa.

Ottawa Tourism is also optimistic international travellers will begin to arrive in Ottawa this summer.

"What we're really excited about is Air France starting to fly between Paris and Ottawa in just about a month's time," Crockatt said Sunday. "That's exciting; that should help us boost those international arrivals as well." Top Stories

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