The faces of Ottawa are learning to put their best feet forward, just in time for tourism season.
Ottawa Tourism held its Stars of the City conference and trade show yesterday to get front-line workers at hotels and tourism venues in the know about Ottawa.
“Front-line staff are very important, because they’re the ones that deal with the tourists,” said Ottawa Tourism communications manager Misty Wade Hovey. “When people check into a hotel, it’s the people there that will be equipped with the knowledge of what’s going on in the city.”
With tourism season — which kicks off next month with the Canadian Tulip Festival — right around the corner, Ottawa tourism “will be in time to equip them with what they need so they’ll be confident with what they are sharing.”
Beyond being the capital of Canada, Ottawa has a lot of offer, including national institutions, including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and Gatineau Park within a 15-minute drive.
“The nature aspect being so close and accessible to downtown is a very key ingredient to making Ottawa what it is,” she said.
While many Ontarians, at one time or another, have come to Ottawa for a school trip, “our challenge is to say, ‘hey, you may have been here 10 years ago to visit Parliament Hill, but there is so much more,’” Hovey said. “There are so many other attractions like whitewater kayaking in the downtown core, and so many other elements that people are unaware of, like yoga on Parliament Hill or the cat sanctuary on the hill.”
Organizations like Owl Rafting, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa Festivals attended to spread the word about their events.
Louise Campbell was there to promote pirateadventures.ca, which is entering its second full year running out of Mooney’s Bay.
“We’re dealing with the hotels and the concierge, and we’d like to let them know that we’re here,” she said.
Getting the message out benefits the city tremendously, Hovey said.
Ottawa-Gatineau welcomes 7.68 million visitors a year, with the majority coming from between Windsor and Quebec City, said Hovey, but Ottawa Tourism is focusing efforts on tourists in the U.K., Germany, France and Australia.
“But all the work that we’re doing wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have people on the ground,” Hovey said. “They’re the ones that are the face of Ottawa.”