We are finally the Bride!!! For years and years and years our programs have been chosen as one of the finalists in various awards categories at the annual Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) Tourism Awards Gala, but we never, ever won – to the point that people would joke with me that CCT was always the bridesmaid and never the bride. That all changed on October 27 when we picked up the hardware for four different awards. Now, I certainly don’t endorse the idea of becoming a bride four times in one night, but it sure was great to get welcomed to the stage with the staff to accept these awards. The team was finally recognized for the efforts they make day in and day out to help you, your neighbours and your community be better prepared to welcome and entertain visitors so they stay longer and spend more money.
Two of our amazing programs were finalists in a combined seven categories and picked up four awards. These programs launched in 2021 and included many great partners that made them work.
Sustainability Category – Cycling
Sustainability Category – Outdoor
Sustainability Category – Attraction
Sustainability Category – RTO
Collaboration Category – Attraction
Collaboration Category – Outdoor
Collaboration Category – RTO
These victories capped off a great few days of learning and networking at the Ontario Tourism Summit. One of the highlights for me was listening to Neil Lumsden, the new provincial Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport address the crowd. He has had an incredible career in the world of sport, which is still near and dear to his heart. He spoke with such passion and conviction about the industry, its resiliency and its growth potential moving forward that, while he was still speaking, I texted Chris Bloore, President of TIAO, and wrote, “I need you to start a nickname for the Minister: Coach Lumsden”. To his credit, Chris did float the name during his remarks later in the conference.
But as I was driving home from Deerhurst the next day, I got to thinking that perhaps that title isn’t correct. It really should be “League President”. Bear with me as I test out this analogy. What really prompted this line of thinking was the conversations we have been having with our stakeholders and municipal partners through the fall. We had our board 2023-2024 planning session last week and staff wanted to know what your plans were for 2023 and how we could help you achieve them. The reason we spend so much time listening to our stakeholders is because you are the coaches of the team. You have the plan, you know your strengths and your weaknesses. And you know better than anyone else what you need to succeed.
Central Counties Tourism is like the team management group, and I am sure you all can cite real team examples of good team management and poor team management. Teams that struggle have management teams that make decisions without understanding the needs of the coaches. They will trade players, break routines or force untested plays in critical situations. Successful team management works with the coaches to learn about what they believe is needed to make the team more successful. If the coaches say they need to shore up their defence, the team management group sets to recruiting the best players to fill the gaps. Those teams win championships and that is why we spend so much time learning about your needs and helping you develop the tools you need to coach a winning team.
In this analogy, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport is the league management, with Minister Lumsden as President. It is their job to make changes to the rules and remove barriers so that all of the teams can perform well and, as importantly, the spectator base grows. On the eve of the Tourism Summit, the provincial government announced a crucial regulatory change pertaining to hot tubs at visitor accommodations, which is going to help hundreds of operators across the province. A successful league listens to coaches and the team management group and implements changes that improves team conditions and the spectator experience.
I am sure that many will be able to poke holes in this analogy and I think one of the reasons for that is because it is scalable. In this example, Central Counties Tourism is the team and Ontario is the league. However, with so many of our municipalities actively working at growing the visitor economy, we can just as easily scale it down to the municipalities being the team and Central Counties being the league. It can also be scaled up so that Ontario is the team and Canada is the league. That is why “Role and Function” has become so important to our organization. Because, depending on the situation and the arena we are playing in, we have different roles and functions for the same situations.
As the board set Central Counties’ priorities for 2023-2024, they kept a focus on role and function – who owned the priority, who was leading its implementation and who was supporting its success. The draft 2023-2024 Business Plan will be going before the board in mid-November. As soon as it is approved, we will provide you a link for your review. In the pages, you will see that we, as the team management group for Central Counties, have listened to our coaches and continue to grow a winning team. At the 2023 Ontario Tourism Summit, we may need to bring a truck to carry all of the awards won by our coaches and team!