The old proverb, “may you live in interesting times” has often been regarded as both a blessing and a curse, implying that depending on one’s perspective, times of conflict or disorder may offer either more challenges or more benefits than those of peace and tranquility. It seems as though we are most certainly living in interesting times today, as global geo-political turmoil and heightened security requirements are affecting some people’s interest in travel, whether for business or pleasure.
In a recent Convene magazine article, The United States of Uncertainty, executive editor Christopher Durso discussed the impact of American policies, including travel bans, on international attendance at meetings and conferences in the United States. Many associations headquartered in the U.S. boast a significant proportion of international membership, and temporary bans on travel and immigration from certain countries have been concerning to organizers, delegates and presenters alike. Similarly, many associations based elsewhere in the world opt to hold their conferences in the United States to facilitate participation by U.S. business partners, researchers and customers. A year into the current American administration, the ongoing uncertainty about travel policies and restrictions is continuing to cause significant challenges for conference organizers and attendees around the globe.
At Shaw Centre, we are hearing from organizations who were exploring American locations for their upcoming events and are now turning to Canadian destinations as alternative possibilities, thanks in large part to Canada’s reputation as a safe, welcoming and inclusive country. In our joint role with Ottawa Tourism to promote Canada’s capital as an attractive location for corporate travellers, including those who may be rethinking plans to travel to the United States, we are very fortunate to have many pluses on our side. These include:
- Ottawa’s geographic proximity to Toronto and Montreal, plus good access via air and rail links
- Our city’s status as Canada’s clean, green capital offering a four-season playground and many activities in and around the downtown core
- Ottawa’s bilingualism and diversity
- A Canadian dollar that is advantageous to travellers from many countries
- A robust service sector throughout the National Capital Region ready to meet the needs of delegates be it for food, transportation, entertainment, recreation, and more
- The flexibility of our space at Shaw Centre and our ability to accommodate a wide range of formats and activities for events
- The experience and willingness of our event services team to offer exemplary – and award-winning – customer service
In this industry, the bottom line is simple: a destination must be welcoming, accommodating and make guests feel secure about visiting. I am proud of the superlative ability of our Ottawa partners and our Shaw Centre team to offer the ultimate in hospitality for all our guests, whether they come to us from local, national or international organizations. It makes me proud as a Canadian to be able to represent Shaw Centre and Ottawa as a stable, welcoming place that is unlikely to be dramatically impacted by global turmoil. People can book their events with us knowing their guests will not only feel safe and welcomed, but also be able to focus on the business reasons that have brought them to our city.