Ottawa saw a six per cent increase in tourism spending in 2011, Ottawa Tourism said, and the first two months of 2012 are up 8.5 per cent compared with the same period last year.
"The quality of exhibitions in Ottawa has always been high, but it seems in the last little bit we've had some pretty impressive Canadian or even North American exclusives," said Jantine Van Kregten, the agency's director of communications.
Exhibits at the National Gallery of Canada such as last year's "Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome" and this year's "Van Gogh: Up Close," as well as Canada Day celebrations featuring Will and Kate last year and the Queen in 2010 keep people coming to Ottawa, she said.
After Juno Week, which took place across the city last week in anticipation of the Canadian music awards ceremony at Scotiabank Place on Sunday, Ms. Van Kregten estimates that up to $10 million was pumped into the local economy as a result.
It's hard to say whether the austere federal budget will impact tourism rates in the capital, she said, adding that most visitors to Ottawa are Canadians.
Ottawa's tourism success appears to be part of a national trend, as Statistics Canada reported tourism spending on the rise for the 10th quarter in a row across the country.
Tourism spending by Canadians and visitors from abroad rose 0.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011, the agency reported Thursday, up 9.5 per cent since mid-2009.
Spending by Canadians at home rose one per cent in the fourth quarter following a 0.9 per cent gain in the previous quarter.
Air transport spending was up 1.9 per cent and recreation and entertainment was up 3.3 per cent, but travel services were down 1.1 per cent.
Spending on accommodation, food and beverages and non-tourism commodities such as groceries, clothing and alcohol bought in stores also rose.
Foreign visitors spent 0.8 per cent more in Canada in the fourth quarter, with gains in overnight travel from both the United States and overseas countries.
- With files from The Canadian Press