Canadian Tourism Commission leaves Ottawa off ‘must-see’ list

By Tori Floyd, Associate Editor, Daily Brew – Thu, 4 Aug, 2011

Washington D.C. is a must-see in the United States. Tourists would be hard-pressed to go to England without wanting to see London. But is Ottawa a necessary stop when planning a trip to Canada?

Apparently, the Canadian Tourism Commission doesn’t think so.

Well, that’s not entirely fair. They think it’s worthwhile, but just not as important as 48 other attractions across Canada.

The CTC created quite a stir with its newly released Signature Experiences Collection list. It compiled a list of 48 of Canadian tourism companies that “show what Canada’s brand is all about” based on nominations.

There were no tourism businesses selected in Canada’s capital to represent that brand.

Ottawa Citizen blogger Ken Gray was quick to defend Ottawa and argued it should be placed on the same pedestal other unique North American cities like San Francisco, Montreal and New York.

Toronto Star travel editor Jim Byers disagrees with Gray that Ottawa is that great, but then again, he says his beloved Toronto isn’t up to the same standard as those cities, either.

He instead concedes the physical beauty of British Columbia almost justifies it has more companies representing the province than any other on the list.

This could also have something to do with the fact the CTC is based in Vancouver, or that the 2010 Olympics gave a massive boost to B.C.’s tourism budget. But that doesn’t explain why Ottawa has been left off the list entirely.

Canada hasn’t been shy about its recent push for tourists. With the visit of Prince William and his new bride Catherine still fresh in everyone’s minds, as well as new 10-year multiple entry visas now available to foreign visitors, our country is hoping to see a lot of new faces.

While the CTC is trying to convince people to come and visit, Ottawa is worried it won’t share the tourism dollars evenly.

“We’re the nation’s capital,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson in a CTV story. “Tourism’s the third-largest industry here, we have a lot to offer and to be left off the list by the CTC . . . I don’t think it’s intentional but I think it was a big mistake.”

The commission says the list of 48 tourism companies is just a start and will hopefully be expanded to 100 by the end of the year.

Watson may have a few choice words for the CTC (for which, ironically, he used to be the president and CEO) if Ottawa doesn’t make it on the extended list.

Ottawa left off list of top tourist attractions

Updated: Mon Aug. 01 2011 7:00:53 PM


Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said it was “a big mistake” that no Ottawa tourist attractions made the Canadian Tourism Commission’s list of must-see sites in the country.

The CTC issued their list of 48 “Signature Experiences” which included The Sunset Ceremony at Old Fort Henry in Kingston, Quebec City’s winter carnival, the Alexander Keith’s Brewery in Halifax and the newly-opened CN Tower Edgewalk.

Watson didn’t go as far as call it a snub, but wondered why Canada’s capital didn’t make an appearance.

“I can’t imagine the US equivalent leaving Washington off or the UK equivalent leaving London off,” he said. “We’re the nation’s capital, tourism’s the third-largest industry here, we have a lot to offer and to be left off the list by the CTC. . . I don’t think it’s intentional but I think it was a big mistake.”

People surveyed on the streets could think of many attractions that they said were worthy for the list.

“We’ve seen the Parliament (Hill), we’ve seen the art gallery, walked down by the river,” said one Australian tourist. “We’ve seen the Canal, it was beautiful.”

“It’s the nation’s capital, I think that alone is very important so for me it’s completely surprising that it’d be off,” said another in the Byward Market.

A spokesperson for the CTC, which used to be based in Ottawa but has moved to Vancouver, said the list was based on submissions.

Watson, who used to be the head of the organization, said next year the capital won’t be left off the internationally-marketed list.

“We’re going to have to do a better job of making sure that they understand that our nation’s capital and tourism go hand-in-hand,” he said.

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Carol Anne Meehan

Canadian Tourism Commission / Commission canadienne du tourisme
Member List

These tourism businesses offer experiences that show what Canada’s brand is all about. We’re always looking for new members to join this growing Collection. Apply at http://www.canada.travel/SEC.

British Columbia

The Inside Passage Coastal Adventure – BC Ferries Vacations
Great Bear Rainforest – Bluewater Adventures
High Flying Summer Adventures – CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures
Granville Island Market Tour – Edible Canada
Eye of the Wind/Adrenaline Adventures – Grouse Mountain
Organic Winery and Bistro – Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Luxury in the Wilderness – Sonora Resort
Canadian Rockies Highlights – Rocky Mountaineer


Plain of the Six Glaciers Tea House Ride – Brewster Adventures
Journey Atop a River of Ice – Brewster Travel Canada
The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – Calgary Stampede
Dinosaurs Unearthed – Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
Fondue with a View: Chocolate Mountain High – Great Divide Nature Interpretation


Cypress Hills Cowboy Adventure – Historic Reesor Ranch
Canada’s Iconic Mounted Heroes – Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre


Marvels of Manitoba – Churchill Nature Tours
Birds, Bears and Belugas – Churchill Wild
Polar Bears by Tundra Buggy – Frontiers North


Unique Sky High Adrenaline Rush – CN Tower
Colonial Life in the 19th Century British Military – Fort Henry
Reliving the Days of the North West Company and the Canadian Fur Trade – Fort William Historical Park
Beyond the Stage – Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Ice Wine Tours and Harvest Table Dinners – Inniskillin Winery
Flightseeing over Niagara/Heli-Wineries Experience – Helicopter Tours


Icy and Urban Adventure – Ice Hotel Canada
Sugaring-Off – Sucrerie de la Montagne
The Grand Festival of Winter – Quebec Winter Carnival
A Closer Look at Nature – Space for Life Montreal
Mountain Get-away – Chic-Choc Lodge

New Brunswick

Hopewell Rocks and Bay of Fundy Coastal Tour – Roads to Sea Guided Tours
Dive into Acadian culture – Village Historique Acadien
Lobster Tales – Shediac Bay Cruises

Nova Scotia

Step Back in Time to the Birthplace of Great Beer – Alexander Keith’s Brewery
History on High: Halifax Citadel – the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada
Cape Breton Island Multi-Sport Kayak, Bike and Hike – Freewheeling Adventures
Tidal Bore River Rafting and Mud Sliding – Schubenacadie Tidal Bore Rafting Park and Cottages

Prince Edward Island

Tong and Shuck – Future Seafoods Inc.
Giant Bar Clam Dig Adventure – Tranquility Cove Adventures
Newfoundlandland and Labrador
Sagas and Shadows – L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada
A Guided Adventure on Your Own – CapeRace
Iceberg Viewing with the Iceberg Man – Twillingate Island Boat Tours Ltd.


Through the Last Great Gold Rush of 1898 – Klondike National Historic Sites of Canada
Alsek and Nahanni River Rafting Adventure – Canadian River Expeditions/ Nahanni River Adventures

Northwest Territories

Aurora Wonderland by Dogsled – Beck’s Kennels
Lodge Life and Cultural Traditions – Yellow Dog Lodge


Cruising Adventures Redefined – Adventure Canada


Historic Railway Hotels – Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
Trans-Canada Experience on the Canadian – VIA Rail Canada