The ThinkOttawa program, a joint initiative managed by Ottawa Tourism, the Shaw Centre and Invest Ottawa, was launched in April 2019 to attract more international conferences and events to Canada’s capital. The program supports local industry, academic, government, and non-profit leaders who are championing bids to bring global, national or regional conferences to Ottawa.
ThinkOttawa allows conference hosts to demonstrate industry leadership, share their knowledge and broaden their networks – all while showcasing their Ottawa pride and making a direct impact on the local economy. Expertise and tools available to local leaders include bid development, marketing and promotional materials, venue and accommodation selection, partnership support, and financial aid for eligible events.
At the first ThinkOttawa gala held on November 28th, 2019, 21 ambassadors were recognized. They had bid on and won 17 international conferences held from 2012 to 2019, as well as future events such as the International Association of Firefighters Conference 2022 and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology 2020 Congress.
Hosting these conferences will greatly benefit the city since they’re estimated to bring $20 million in spending and fill 40,000 to 70,000 room nights in Ottawa hotels. “We sold them on the city,” says Dr. Donna Johnston, chair of the committee and Division Chief of the Hematology/Oncology Department at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. “ThinkOttawa created a presentation on how we have this great location on the banks of the Rideau Canal.”
ThinkOttawa also helps support “homegrown” events such as SaaS North, AccelerateOTT and Impact AI conferences in hopes they can grow into even larger conferences one day. These homegrown events help local businesses connect with others in the region and showcase local expertise.
“Ottawa Tourism is thrilled to be working with Shaw Centre and Invest Ottawa to support local ambassadors in bringing their meeting, event, or convention to Ottawa,” says Michael Crockatt, President and CEO, Ottawa Tourism. “These events represent an important component of the local economy, contributing to the overall figure of $2.2 billion in visitor spending in an average year. Through this program, we look forward to increased economic activity in our community and raising our international profile. Ultimately, this will strengthen the visitor economy in Ottawa.”
Industry leaders looking to host an international event or interested in submitting a bid to host a conference in Ottawa can visit the Think Ottawa website for more information.