Ottawa Tourism has turned to a well-connected industry veteran to be its next CEO.
© Mark Holleron
Ottawa Chamber of Commerce chair Michael Crockatt
The organization announced Thursday it has hired Michael Crockatt, the former vice-president of business development and marketing at the Ottawa International Airport Authority, as its new president and chief executive. He will begin effective March 7.
Currently a senior vice-president with Vancouver-based aviation consulting firm InterVISTAS, Mr. Crockatt takes over for interim president and CEO Dick Brown. Mr. Brown, the former head of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association, has been running Ottawa Tourism since former chief executive Noel Buckley resigned last June.
A search committee looked at more than 150 candidates for the position, but Geoff Publow, chair of Ottawa Tourism’s board of directors, said Mr. Crockatt stood out due to his wealth of industry experience and close connections at Queen’s Park, city hall and the airport authority.
“He’s a proven leader with industry knowledge,” Mr. Publow said. “Michael’s got strong relationships on all those fronts and is well-positioned to work with those partners.”
With the capital expected to draw more than 11 million tourists to its Canada 150 celebrations next year, Mr. Crockatt’s top priority will be making sure Ottawa capitalizes on a golden opportunity to sell itself to the world, Mr. Publow said.
“It’s certainly going to be Michael’s focus, growing the visitorship here,” he said. “2017 is a great opportunity for the city to shine a spotlight on Ottawa as a destination, and Michael’s focus really is to help us take advantage of 2017 and look to the years beyond that to growing Ottawa as a destination of choice amongst travellers in Canada and the U.S.”
Mr. Crockatt, a former chair of Ottawa Tourism’s board of directors, said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“Representing our destination and helping to attract and welcome visitors to Ottawa is an honour and a privilege,” he said in a statement. “With Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, Ottawa will be the place to be. Our job at Ottawa Tourism is to maintain the momentum that is generated in 2017 and continue to grow Ottawa’s tourism sector, which is the third-largest economic contributor in the city.”
Attracting more visitors from south of the border while the dollar is low will be a vital part of that effort, Mr. Publow added.
“We can’t control what happens with the currency, but we need to be well-positioned to take advantage of it,” he said. “Ottawa, by our geography and being close to that population of the eastern seaboard, the U.S. has always been a key market.”
Mr. Crockatt, who is also chair of the board of directors at the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, spent more than eight years at the Ottawa airport authority, handling issues from strategic planning and air services marketing to customer service and government relations, before joining InterVISTAS last March.
Before coming to Ottawa, he served as director of marketing for cargo and passenger services with the Winnipeg Airports Authority.
An OBJ Forty Under 40 recipient in 2010, Mr. Crockatt received a similar distinction from Airport Business Magazine in 2013. He also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and was named Tourism Volunteer of the Year at the 2011 Ottawa Tourism Awards.