Hand and Water

Eleven days after being put on a ventilator because of COVID-19, I received a call from my friend’s wife saying that he had recovered enough to breathe on his own. It was at that moment, as I burst into tears, that I fully realized the extent of the pent up emotions, released by the wonderful news that I was carrying with me. Because, while my friend was entering recovery, so many other aspects of our lives are still on life support. I was shedding tears of relief for my friend, tears of stress for my own business and so many of yours that are still shuttered, tears of fear that the negative visitor sentiment being demonstrated within communities is going to prevail, tears of frustration that the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem any closer.

The good news also strengthened my belief that we too will make it through, and my resolve to keep the torch of hope burning is strong. Collectively, we can help keep businesses connected to consumers and find creative ways to get money in the tills. We can educate residents on the importance of visitors to all of you and the vibrancy of the communities you serve. Being proactive at nurturing these two priorities back to health may not make the tunnel any shorter, but will certainly make the light brighter. Here is what I want to do.

Tell Your Stories

NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) sentiment is at an all-time high. And while the majority of your revenues probably come from locals, our research consistently shows that people from outside of your community are spending money with you and your neighbours. In some cases, having those extra few people through your doors every week can be the difference between profitability and insolvency. The residents don’t understand that, and until now, it hasn’t really been a priority to do so. I would like to change that.

I am calling on you and other business owners from your town (and every town within Central Counties) to email me a short story or quote about the importance non-residents have on your ability to remain solvent, hire local staff, drive business to your neighbours, etc. I am then going to have our team consolidate those stories and create community-specific media releases that will hopefully get picked up through your community news outlets. If they don’t, then we will look at purchasing advertising space to create an “advertorial” that tells the same story. We need to get that conversation going sooner rather than later and I can tell you that the message will be heard much louder when coming from you rather than me. Please email me at cthibeault@centralcounties.ca

Create Destinations

There will be a time in the near future when people are going to be allowed to get out and explore. Outdoor activities will be high on the priority list and we want to connect the trails and parks to nearby communities and your businesses. We also are making plans to launch a “Staycation” incentive program to entice locals to spend a few nights in one of our many great accommodations. Participating accommodators will be able to provide guests who book a two-night stay with $100 off the total room fee. The promotion will be running through Central Counties Tourism, where we will showcase itineraries of activities that will fill a few days and hopefully have them spending that $100 savings. The more we work directly with you, the better and more enticing the itineraries will be, which, in turn, will motivate more people to stay at a local accommodator. In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to our accommodation partners with details on the program from the logistics side. In the meantime, if you have some great ideas for incorporating your community stakeholders into itineraries, please reach out to your field manager directly. In case you haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting your rep, here are their email addresses:

Headwaters – Emily, equinton@centralcounties.ca

York – Sandra, squiteria@centralcounties.ca

Durham – Eleanor, ecook@centralcounties.ca

Recovery from COVID-19 is a long, slow process. My friend’s big victory this week (two weeks post-ventilator) was being able to remove the shower seat because he has enough stamina now to stand for the five minutes. In his mind, a win is a win, regardless of how small, and that is the attitude I think we all need to embrace moving forward. You are not alone in your struggles and you are not weak asking for help. In fact, I truly believe that we will be stronger for our need to rely on each other. Although it won’t be in person, I invite all of you to join us at our AGM in June. It will be a great opportunity to get fully caught up on the opportunities CCT has for your business. We have also secured a great keynote speaker to help give a boost to our collective recovery efforts. If I don’t talk to you directly before then, I look forward to seeing you on at the AGM on June 23rd.

Best regards,

 

Chuck