Ottawa mayor leading 5-day economic mission to the Netherlands

Mayor Jim Watson on Tuesday announced that a 20-member delegation of business and tourism leaders in Ottawa will depart on a five-day economic mission to the Netherlands on September 15. Beatrice Britneff / Global News

A delegation from Ottawa will head to the Netherlands on a five-day economic mission later this month in hopes of better strengthening business and tourism ties between Canada’s capital city and Holland, Mayor Jim Watson announced on Tuesday.

The 20-member delegation – led by the mayor and comprised of representatives from Invest Ottawa, Ottawa Tourism and the Canadian Tulip Festival, among others – will participate in a series of meetings and events in The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Eindhoven from September 15 to September 20, according to the city.

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Ottawa Tourism has made great strides in the European market in recent years and in fact, we’ve had the Netherlands on our radar for quite a while now as a potential emerging market,” said Glenn Duncan, Ottawa Tourism’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

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“We can continue to significantly increase the economic impact of tourism in Ottawa by securing just one major international convention or adding a tour itinerary to a tour operator residing in the Netherlands. That’s our goal.”

During the trip, Watson said he plans to market Ottawa as “the ideal place to invest, visit and study.” Tourism and education aside, officials are also looking to build new connections between the two parties’ high tech and defence sectors, the mayor told reporters.

Trip to recognize liberation of Netherlands

Canada and Holland have enjoyed a decades-long friendship and the economic mission also intends to recognize the upcoming 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, which was led by Canadian forces in 1945. The anniversary, which falls next spring, factored into the timing of the trip, Watson said.

“It made sense to go now as we ramp up to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands,” he told reporters.

“It’s a pretty special relationship and I think for us to ignore it would be a mistake.”

The City of Ottawa, in particular, formed a bond with the Netherlands during the Second World War because the Dutch royal family took refuge in the nation’s capital. Dutch Princess Margriet was born in the Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1943; the maternity ward in which she was born was temporarily declared international territory for her birth.

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The timing of the mission to the Netherlands means the mayor won’t be in town for the first week of weekday operations for the long-awaited and long-delayed Confederation Line, whose service will officially launch on September 14 –  the day before the mission kicks off.

When asked about this, the mayor said in French that he will be present for the light-rail train’s public launch, which is important to him personally.

According to a city media release, the Netherlands is Canada’s fifth-largest European trading partner and one of the country’s “most significant trade, investment and innovation partners.”

“There are many existing areas of co-operation between Ottawa and several cities in the Netherlands,” Netherlands Ambassador Henk van der Zwan said. “However, this visit will undoubtedly prove valuable in forging new partnerships and announcements in these areas of higher educations, research, innovation, tourism and business.”

Representatives from Accenture, Assent Compliance and Martello Technologies are also part of the delegation departing for the Netherlands in two weeks.

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