Tourism slide continues - Metro US

Tourism slide continues

With a 0.8 per cent drop in the second quarter of 2009 — the fourth straight decline — tourism spending in Canada is down, Statistics Canada said yesterday.

But while the agency said spending by both Canadians and international visitors is down in the second quarter by 0.6 and 1.6 per cent respectively, Ottawa hasn’t been affected as much as other Ontario cities, Ottawa Tourism said yesterday.

In July 2008, Ottawa had 69.6. per cent hotel occupancy, but a year later, the number had dropped to 67.3 per cent.

But that 2.3 per cent drop isn’t as bad as what cities like Toronto and Montreal are experiencing, said director of communications Jantine Van Kregten. Ottawa is somewhat insulated because of business travellers with the federal government, she said. “Also, we’re not right on the border of the U.S.”

Van Kregten said because passports were needed for land-based U.S.-Canada border crossings as of June 1, some destinations have seen a decrease in travellers.

The galleries, festivals and programming in the capital also help Ottawa with attracting tourists and keeping them longer, she said. “No other city in Canada has the collection of museums that we do.”

Still, “there are many challenges to the tourism industry,” she said.

An election would cause a decrease in tourism, Van Kregten said, and while H1N1 has people taking precautions, so far “the mood isn’t one of panic.”

In 2007, Ottawa had 7.5 million person visits, bringing in $1.21 billion in visitor spending.

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