OTTAWA – The Ottawa Convention Centre has recruited a veteran and innovative sales and marketing specialist whose objective it is to attract more and larger national and international conventions and tradeshows to Ottawa in time for the 2011 opening of the redeveloped Ottawa Convention Centre.

Marc-André Varin, now the Vice-President of Marketing and Revenue Management for the Ottawa Convention Centre, has a proven track record as the former Director of Sales and Marketing at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Montréal is one of Canada’s leading convention destinations. Mr. Varin played a key role in the success that Montréal has had hosting large, high profile international events. Mr. Varin has also held senior executive positions with Air Canada, Aéroports de Montréal and the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec.

The plan was commissioned by the Board and completed by GBA, an Ottawa-based development firm led by Graham Bird. The plan included a feasibility study, which outlined a number of major obstacles facing the possibility of expansion on the current site but also a business plan that produced recommendations to overcome these obstacles.

“Mr. Varin understands the needs of large global meetings and conventions,” said Patrick Kelly, President of the Ottawa Convention Centre. “His familiarity with international and national organizations is complemented by his expertise in delivering superior customer service. This level of service and sophistication is what the city of Ottawa needs in a new convention centre.”

The plan for Ottawa’s new convention centre includes expanding the market to attract international meetings and organizations that would benefit from the proximity to the Government of Canada and the hundreds of national non-government organizations whose head offices are in Ottawa

“Many organizations want to come to the Nation’s Capital and haven’t been able to because the primary convention facility is inadequate,” said Mr. Varin. “With a new convention centre, we have a tremendous opportunity to attract influential and world-renowned organizations. The increase of international and national events that will occur as a result of the redevelopment will have major economic and social benefits for the Ottawa region.”

Mr. Varin and his marketing and sales team are working on plans to attract more and larger conventions into the new Convention Centre which is scheduled to open in April 2011. The construction phase is expected to start in September 2008. The new plan triples the floor space to 200,000 square feet, including 100,000 square feet of contiguous column-free space, increases green space, improves access for pedestrians and cyclists and allows for a leading example of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) environmental sustainability.