Ottawa-Gatineau Pride doesn’t bring much dough to the city yet, according to numbers from Tourism Ottawa. The figures for 2003 — the most recent comparative data available — indicate that Pride welcomed 12,000 people to its festivities. Of them, only 1,000 came from outside the National Capital Region.
The same year, 500,000 people attended the Tulip Festival, of which 180,000 were visitors. And of the 91,000 people showing up to the Ottawa Race Weekend, 38,000 were from outside Ottawa.
Pride “is not a major attraction to visitors,” says Jantine Van Kregten, director of communications at Tourism Ottawa. Her organization has launched an advertising campaign aimed at bringing gay tourists to the city.
She says the success of Pride in Ottawa relies on its visibility, and because of the rough competition with Montreal’s Divers/Cité and Toronto’s Pride Week, Ottawa is often passed over. That’s one reason the Ottawa committee moved the festival to the end of August, allowing future tourists to close down their Pride travel season with a visit to Canada’s capital. The Pride Committee’s plans include transitioning the festival from a local celebration to one with a national focus.