E.D. Corner: February 2024

Good Day,

I had a lightbulb moment this morning. I was replaying a conversation I was having the other day with some friends who were complaining about government. The crux of the discontent was they felt government wasn’t helping them personally. The switch turned on in my brain as I was thinking about what I was going to say in the 15 minutes I have with the Ontario Minister of Finance later this afternoon. I am bringing with me a report that shows that in 2022, overnight visitors dropped close to $1,000,000,000 (yes, that is a billion) within Central Counties, which included close to $140,000,000 in provincial sales tax. And I am going to talk about how close to 20% of people who shop in downtown Uxbridge (his riding) are not from Uxbridge. I am going to end by saying that Ontario’s investment in the visitor economy is far less than many of the other provinces and putting us further and further behind.

It was thinking about government investment that popped the comment from a few nights ago back into my head. We want the provincial government to invest more money into growing the visitor economy. This doesn’t mean finding every person who is connected to the industry and handing them $100. Yes, that may help each person individually, but does nothing to grow capacity. To us, investment in the visitor economy is creating opportunities for communities to welcome more people, spending money to connect communities better, growing a visitor-centric culture that keeps people here longer, and increasing the number of people that want to spend time with us. In focusing investment in projects designed to keep more Ontarian’s spending money in Ontario rather than going elsewhere while, at the same time, attracting more visitors from the rest of Canada and around the world, the amount of money that all levels of government will have to spend on real cost centres like Health and Education, will increase substantially. And where is all of that tax revenue coming from? Your tills as they fill with increased revenues from increased visitation. That is the soap box I am jumping on in my 15 minutes. I will let you know how it goes.

Central Counties Tourism is a good example of the province’s investment in tourism. We use the funds they provide to help you grow your capacity so that you can be more successful. As more businesses in a community build their capacities and work at attracting more visitors, a destination is born, which has even more potential to drive even more visitors. We encourage municipalities and regions to further support destination development through their investments and when we are all working together towards that common goal, more businesses will see the value of attracting visitors, which just strengthens the destination.

We have launched many programs specifically designed to better prepare you grow your business. I am sure that many of you have taken the Tourism Ambassador Program through our Learning Lab. If not, I highly recommend it, along with all of the other courses designed specifically for visitor-facing businesses to be more successful. A great one is our series of social media how to’s. If you find that you do better working through a course live and with others, you are in luck! On February 28, we are hosting a virtual Lunch & Learn that will help you ‘Get Tourism Social Media Ready’. We have also updated the 2024-2025 Partnership Program. If you missed the launch party Zoom meeting, I highly recommend that you take time to review it. The deadline is fast approaching and you don’t want to miss out. We made some fairly major changes to the program, ensuring that the focus remains on driving visitors (and their money) who live more than 40kms away. It is this new money coming to your community that helps it stay vibrant.

Finally, we have our 2024 Tourism Symposium coming up on Tuesday, April 9.  Space is limited so get your tickets now. We work at keeping the content relevant and implementable for both businesses and organizations that support growing the visitor economy. We originally had it scheduled on Monday the 8th, but I am sure that many of us will want to be in the Niagara Region to be in the best viewing path of the solar eclipse. Anyway, that is it for now. There is lots going on and lots that you can do to grow your business. As always, please reach out at any time to chat. I can be reached at cthibeault@centralcounties.ca.

Have a great day!




Central Counties is located North of Toronto


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Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director, Chuck Thibeault