City to launch rural tourism campaign

WEST CARLETON – As the city’s tourism industry works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating economic impact, city staff will try to help the country folk by launching a City of Ottawa rural tourism campaign.

The Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee (ARAC) heard details of the plan at today’s (June 4) virtual meeting.

City of Ottawa High Economic Impact Projects general manager Sheilagh Doherty took ARAC through a high-level description of the rural tourism strategy which will launch mid-June.

“We know the tourism industry is one of the hardest hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Doherty told ARAC. “We are working with Ottawa Tourism to launch a rural campaign.”

The rural tourism campaign team has a few goals for the campaign.

“We want it to be hyperlocal,” Doherty said. “We will be encouraging our own residents to explore the rural areas. We will focus on promoting rural cycling routes.”

Doherty says the campaign will have two phases. The first phase will focus on the “rural experience” and cycling routes. The team will release a promotional video, a rural photo contest and raise awareness through a social media campaign.

“We want to get our residents and the residents of Gatineau out and exploring,” Doherty said. “This campaign is part of a broader Ottawa Tourism recovery campaign.”

City staff are currently creating content for the campaign and will release information geared to each specific rural ward in Ottawa.

“We will create individual content for each rural ward,” Doherty said.

That content will highlight local points of interest that may include:

  • Things to do
  • Suggested itineraries
  • Local businesses highlights
  • Cycling routes
  • Points of interest

Doherty says staff are in the process of “finalizing content and creative elements.”

Phase 1 is expected to launch mid-June and “get people thinking” about rural recreational opportunities.

Doherty says they are not yet sure when Phase 2 will launch as that will happen in concert with the province’s loosening of current pandemic-related restrictions.

She says the campaign will last “throughout summer, potentially in to fall, depending on when Phase 2 starts.”