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____ Monday October 26 , 2015 ____


Update on RTO's

New Strategic Framework Will Strengthen Regional Tourism Organizations

No date has been set for the launch of the strategic framework of the RTO's by Ontario's MTCS.

Thornbury - The thirteen Regional Tourism Organizations (RTOs) established by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) are working collaboratively on the implementation of a ‘strategic framework for tourism’, being developed by the Ministry as part of its ongoing efforts to build the tourism industry in the province.

One outcome of the 2009 Tourism Competitiveness Study Report (Discovering Ontario: A Report on the Future of Tourism) was the creation of a regional tourism model in the province. In 2014, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario was contracted to conduct a 5-year review of the implementation of the Discovering Ontario recommendations (20 in all) and, based on stakeholder feedback, MTCS will lead the development of a strategic framework that will iterate the “key priorities and specific actions both government and industry can take to grow tourism in the province.” This strategic framework will be key to fostering greater collaboration across the province by stakeholders, and will allow the established RTOs to strengthen their already significant contributions to the development of tourism in Ontario.

“RTO7 is working on building a solid tourism industry and strong tourism product across the region to create and enhance a positive, memorable experience for our visitors”, says Bill Sullivan, ExecutiveDirector. “The region is fortunate in having a wealth of natural attributes while, at the same time, offering splendid culinary and rural experiences balanced with small town hospitality no matter what size the community. Working with our tourism partners to “raise the bar” in our experiences and products will definitely benefit tourism across the entire region.”

While no date has been set for the launch of the strategic framework by MTCS, the 13 RTOs continue to introduce innovative and diverse projects in Ontario to build provincial tourism. For a brief summary of region-specific successes, see below:

Bruce County, Grey County and Simcoe County

Always in season, the four-season tourism region of BruceGreySimcoe is a prime getaway destination. Close to the GTA and other major urban centres, its diverse geography includes major bodies of water such as Lake Huron, Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe, plus natural assets like the Bruce Peninsula, Niagara Escarpment, the Blue Mountains and beaches (most notablySauble Beach and Wasaga Beach). Add in a rich agricultural history, culture, winter sports and a thriving culinary sector and there’s a firm foundation already in place from which to build a regional tourism industry.

RTO7 understands that there is strength in partnerships and is working with its stakeholders – municipalities, Destination Marketing Organizations, operators – to build a strong, consistent tourism product and a high level of customer service across the region. Developing and strengthening the partnerships with our stakeholders is a main focus in order to better promote the region and position it as Ontario’s ultimate tourism destination. Here are some of the highlights:

Workforce Development is one of RTO7’s four mandates with emphasis on the recruitment, development and retention of our regionalworkforce. This includes working with high schools and educators within the region.

Listed below are some of the initiatives undertaken:

RT07 - BruceGreySimcoe Tourism Conference

The first BruceGreySimcoe Tourism Conference is being held on December 9, 2015 in Meaford and is a collaboration between RTO7 and Bruce, Grey and Simcoe Counties.

BGS Service Excellence Training Program

RTO7 has partnered with the Counties of Bruce, Grey and Simcoe to offer free online customer service training to tourism operators within the region. Working with OTEC as the program provider, the training takes about one hour, is available online and a certificate isissued upon successful completion of the course. The training is also open to students within the region who are encouraged to use it on their resumes when job hunting.

Tap into Tourism

Career Day to introduce and promote tourism as a career to high school students. The full day event features a keynote speaker, breakout sessions featuring presenters from local tourism businesses and a local work fair with colleges and employers. RTO7 partners with the school boards within the region on these events and they are: Bluewater District School Board, Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board, Simcoe County District School Board and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

Partnership Funding program is designed to encourage strong partnerships across the region and expand the breadth and diversity of our funding partners. Under the program, tourism partners pool financial resources through matching funds in one of the following areas:

Digital Advertising, Signage, Experience Development, Video Production

Experience/Product Implementation Program is set up to help coach, support and educate stakeholders in BruceGreySimcoe and to potentially fund experiences and products to be market ready. A Tourism Experience Development Specialist was added to the staff of RTO7 in April 2015 to work with stakeholders to create high quality, sustainable tourism experiences.

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