Tourism officials hope Ottawa 2017 reverses decline in U.S. visitors

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There are hopes for a rebound in American tourism thanks to the 150th anniversary celebrations happening in Ottawa this year.

By Adam Kveton

Despite American tourist numbers down in Canada since the early 2000s, Ottawa Tourism says it hopes to buck the trend this year.

“It is too early to tell what the uptake will be in the U.S. though with the full slate of 2017 events and the high-profile media coverage, we’re optimistic,” said Jantine Van Kregten, director of communications with Ottawa Tourism.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of American tourists travelling here has been down since the early 2000’s, when the high was 15 million visits in a year. Stats Canada said what likely influenced that decline was the SARS epidemic in 2003, the appreciation of the Canadian dollar between 2002 and 2008, the 2008 global recession and the introduction of stricter ID requirements to enter Canada from the United States.

The number of United States residents entering Canada via the Macdonald-Cartier International Airport in Ottawa dropped from a high of more than 139,000 in 2004 to about 103,000 in 2015. Canada-wide stats show international tourism other than from the United States steadily growing in Canada, while the numbers through Ottawa airport have stayed relatively stagnant at about 45,000 a year.

Ottawa Tourism numbers that include tourists entering by way of bus, car or train show U.S. visitors to Ottawa declined by about 4.3 per cent overall in 2014, totalling about 370,000. However, the amount that visitors to Ottawa spent was stable at $162 million.

Ottawa Tourism said it’s supporting a renewed marketing effort in the U.S. after Destination Canada pulled marketing there between 2012 and 2015.

“In 2017, we expect great things,” said Van Kregten.

This article originally appeared in Metro News.