A longstanding relationship has been formed over the years between Ottawa and The Hague, due to the synergies of the two political capitals and international cities, and the 75 years of friendship between countries. This collaboration materializes this year with the mission lead by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Ottawa Tourism and Invest Ottawa in the Netherlands from September 15 to 20, to promote Ottawa as the preferred Canadian destination for Dutch leisure and business travelers.
Celebrating a 75-year friendship
Canada and the Netherlands have a long history of collaboration dating back to the Second World War and beyond.
The City of Ottawa, in particular, formed a bond with the Netherlands during the Second World War when the Dutch royal family took refuge in the Canada’s capital. In 1943, Princess (later Queen) Juliana gave birth to her third daughter, Princess Margriet, at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Immediately following the Second World War, the Dutch royal family presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulips in gratitude for the hospitality provided by the city and an additional 20,000 tulip bulbs in 1946 as a token of appreciation for Canada’s support and wartime efforts.
The Netherlands continues to send Canada a gift of tulips each year as a symbol of international friendship. The tradition led to the founding of the Canadian Tulip Festival in 1953, and the event has been held in May each year ever since. The Tulip Festival is now Ottawa’s most popular annual event, attracting over 600,000 domestic and international visitors to Canada’s capital to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Fostering business opportunities
As Canada’s fifth largest European trading partner and second largest source of foreign direct investment, the Netherlands is one of Canada’s most significant trade, investment and innovation partners. Ottawa and The Hague have a like-minded approach on a broad spectrum of issues, including common commitment to multilateralism and the rules-based international order.
From an economic perspective, defence and security in both cities represent one of the most important clusters, together with the highly developing tech sector. The mission’s goal is to facilitate business development in the Netherlands for Ottawa-based companies operating in key sectors like autonomous vehicles, smart cities, software and defence. Representatives from Invest Ottawa, Assent Compliance, Martello Technologies and Accenture, will meet with partners in The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
The two cities will also exchange information and best practices in areas such as flood prevention, active transportation, affordable housing and the nightlife economy.
Promoting business and leisure tourism
Since competition between global destinations is fierce, it’s important for Ottawa to create strategic partnerships to increase economic impact and attract more conferences and visitors. The signing of a friendly Memorandum of Understanding between Ottawa Tourism and The Hague Convention Bureau will strengthen the collaboration of the two cities in the meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (MICE) sector, especially the association market. Public relations opportunities will be leveraged to feature Ottawa and The Hague as the European and Canadian destinations of choice for International Associations.
Ottawa Tourism believes that the collaboration with The Hague will attract new international business events to Ottawa and help to position Canada’s capital as a thriving centre for innovation on an international scale. Similar collaboration has been recently established between Paris, France and London, England to promote the two capitals in the MICE sector, especially to an American audience.
The Ottawa delegation will host events in The Hague and Amsterdam, participate in meetings with Dutch counterparts and stakeholders, and sign agreements advancing Ottawa’s business and tourism ties with the Netherlands. Another portion of the mission will look specifically at improving tourism flow between Ottawa and the Dutch nation.
Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism, sums up the benefits of the mission as such: “From the annual Canadian Tulip Festival to skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway, Ottawa offers an intriguing mix of familiar-yet-different experiences for visitors from the Netherlands. Whether they’re in town for a meeting or convention, as part of an organized tour, or on a personal holiday, Dutch visitors will discover Canada in one city when they visit Ottawa. This mission allows us to expand our existing relationships and to forge new ones.“