Members of North Grenville’s Economic Development Department presented the results of their Tourism Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) study at the council meeting last Tuesday. The study was conducted in response to a 2017 BR+E study that identified tourism as a priority in the municipality.
“It was also identified as a priority of this council,” said Economic Development Coordinator, Hillary Geneau, who presented the findings of the study to council.
Throughout the months of July and August, thirty tourism-related businesses were surveyed with the goal of understanding how to grow the tourism industry, connect businesses, and gather marketing material for both the participants and the municipality. Businesses surveyed were asked a total of 19 questions, which were derived from the standard OMAFRA tourism survey, with the addition of some questions that were specific to the North Grenville community.
Through the study, they were able to take the pulse of the current tourism climate in North Grenville and make some recommendations to council about how it can be improved. The first recommendation put forward by the Economic Development team included looking at how the signage bylaw can be modified to benefit tourism-based businesses in the municipality. They also recommended that the municipality review how to support businesses in the Tourism-Oriented Directional Signing (TODS) program run by the province.
Another issue that came up through the study was the challenge of promoting tourism-based businesses in the municipality. Most businesses felt that council could better support them with the creation of a dedicated visitor guide, and that they would be willing to contribute through the purchase of ads. The recommendation also suggests that any promotional materials should highlight North Grenville’s location and easy access to large, close-by markets and year-round activities.
It was clear from the study that events like Kemptville Live have a positive impact on the local tourism economy. Because of this, the third recommendation focused on promoting current festivals and re-occurring events, and supporting the creation of new ones.
Accentuating the area’s vast array of outdoor and year-round activities, such as the use of trails in the winter, as well as looking at ways to develop and promote the waterfront, were both highlighted as important areas of focus.
The last recommendation dealt with enhancing municipal support and communication. Those surveyed felt that the municipality could do a better job of supporting them, and are encouraging council to review municipal processes for changes that may make doing business easier. Looking into the need for an industry communication system, like a quarterly newsletter, was also part of this recommendation, as well as the possibility of familiarization tours and brochure swaps.
At the end of the presentation, Mayor Nancy Peckford asked Hillary to identify one thing that council could look at doing in the next year to enhance their support of tourism in the community: something she feels very passionate about. Hillary said that signage would probably be where she would recommend focusing efforts, as it was something that was brought up continually throughout the tourism BR+E process.