At Central Counties Tourism, we are always saying to you, our stakeholders, “Let’s work together.” That is what we are here for, it is what we think about and work towards every day. Let’s find a way to make you more successful. Let’s find a way to bring visitors to your location and extend the reach of your name and your tourism offering. With this being at the core of who we are, you can imagine our excitement when our tireless toil pays off in the launch of a new product or experience. Your success story, after all, is ours too.
This season, the Pickering Museum Village has launched its Haunted Ghost Drive-Thru Tour in collaboration with CCT. By investing its own funds into the project and by applying for our Partnership Funding program, the museum was able to access additional CCT funds and resources to create a stronger and more robust marketing initiative for this wonderful new experience. We at CCT couldn’t be more impressed with the result. Let us tell you how it all came about.
The Pickering Museum Village is located on a 27-acre site, and showcases a collection of historic buildings from different parts of Durham Region. As a living museum, the Pickering Museum Village is heavily hands-on and experience oriented. When staff developed their Haunted Ghost Walk experience, it was our pleasure at CCT to review their application for Partnership funds. The project was an excellent example of our businesses and attractions creating new and innovative tourism products to increase visitation and revenue. The focus of the project on spooky stories (experienced by staff, visitors and volunteers on the grounds of the museum itself) and told in a nighttime setting with atmospheric enhancements, was sure to pique visitor interest. Just reading about these spectre sightings and unexplained oddities during the application process gave us the chills.
The partnership was approved, developments were underway, and enthusiasm was building for the Haunted Ghost Walk when… COVID-19 hit. Ontario enacted and endured a necessary shut-down, and isolation became a temporary way of life for all of us. We are now venturing cautiously into a reopening of the economy, but as a result of the pandemic altering the way we interact and live in our community, many of our Partnership projects required adaptation to meet social distancing and safety guidelines. The Pickering Museum Village was no exception. They found themselves faced with the challenge of adapting the Haunted Ghost Walk.
It was a challenge they met head on and overcame, and today we are pleased to announce the Pickering Museum Village Haunted Ghost Drive-Thru Tour. This new experience maintains the spirit (pardon the pun) of the previous walking tour, but now satisfies all three phases of economic reopening.
“People are self-contained in their cars,” explains Laura Gibbs, Supervisor of Museum Services for the City of Pickering. “The audio guide they receive is sanitized, and there is not any physical human contact—no repeated touching of things, no big groups. Our Drive-Thru tours are how we modified our offerings to make things work and keep visitors engaged with us. And as soon as the tour was converted, Central Counties jumped on board. They really helped spread awareness of the Drive-Thru tour.”
We can’t tell you how pleased we are, as staff at Central Counties, to learn that it was our workshops and AGM which brought awareness to the museum about our Partnership Funding program opportunities. This is, in fact, one of the best pieces of advice Laura Gibbs has for her fellow owners and operators in York Durham Headwaters who want to know what kinds of things we can do together: Come to a CCT workshop or event. It’s that simple. It is here that you are going to discover all the opportunities we have available. Laura says, “I came to a workshop about funding, and Caroline [Polgrabia] was there from the Province of Ontario speaking about funding opportunities through the Rural Economic Development Program. I had never heard of that. It wasn’t even on my radar.” Through this CCT workshop, Laura realized that her organization was eligible for a tourism-specific grant to rehabilitate the museum’s Blacksmith’s forge and develop new and dynamic exhibit elements.
Additionally, by attending our workshops, Laura had the opportunity to meet other operators and owners with whom she wouldn’t otherwise have thought to collaborate. “I know these people are engaged and that they are keen to explore tourism options. I now want to follow up with them to see if we can work together,” she says.
We would be remiss if we did not send a shout out to our Durham Region representative, Eleanor Cook, for her assistance with the Haunted Ghost Drive-Thru Tour. Like all three of our regional consultants do every day, Eleanor went above and beyond for her stakeholder. “Eleanor has been absolutely amazing,” Laura states. “She was actively involved in giving us advice on how to make our Haunted Ghost tour a tourist-friendly experience. She gave us advice on things we could do to adjust the program, like making it easy for people to buy tickets, and making it a standing program so if visitors couldn’t come one week, they could come the next.” Additionally, Eleanor has consulted and advised on other programs that the Pickering Museum Village is considering for the future. “Things like incorporating food, and working on building other partnerships in tourism,” Laura says. “We have been thrilled with that.”
Do you want to find how you can partner with us at Central Counties Tourism? Contact your regional representative today to find out what opportunities we’ve got, and how you can take advantage of the resources we have for you. Let’s work together!
Story by Katherine Ryalen
Sandra Quiteria – York Region
(905) 940-9999 x 7
Eleanor Cook – Durham Region
(905) 940-9999 x 8
Emily Quinton – Headwaters Region
(905) 940-9999 x 6