North Grenville will be working towards the creation of a new tourism strategy for the Municipality after an injection of funds from the Region 9 Tourism Organization (RTO 9), an organization that is funded by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, which actively promotes tourism for the South Eastern Ontario region. In January, 2020, RTO 9 announced that their Partnership Fund was open for intake, and, on February 5, Council directed staff to proceed with applying to the RTO 9 Partnership Fund for funding to support the development of a North Grenville Tourism Strategy.
The Municipality was successful in their application, and will be receiving $20,000 in matching funds to create the strategy. According to the staff report, tourism is seen as an integral part of the Municipality’s local economy, with the greatest number of jobs coming from the restaurant industry. The overarching purpose of the tourism strategy will be to create a strategic plan that supports the Municipality’s vision and mission.
They will be leveraging information gathered in North Grenville’s 2017 Marketing Plan and the 2019 Tourism BR+E initiative to provide new and relevant detailed tactics to help guide tourism initiatives in North Grenville for the next three to five years. The plan will also be focusing on helping businesses, who have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, recover. This will include restaurants and other tourism-based businesses, some of which have had to close their doors because of the pandemic. Economic Development Officer, Matt Gilmer, mentioned Saunders Country Critters Zoo, which was forced to close because they didn’t have enough revenue to feed the animals without the visitor traffic. “A business like that would be a good example that would benefit from a tourism strategy like this,” he said.
Council has already earmarked $25,000 for the project in the 2020 budget, and, at the council meeting on June 16, unanimously voted to enter into the agreement with RTO 9. Matt told council that the budget for the project is currently $40,000, with the funding from RTO 9, however the extra $5,000 budgeted may be used, if needed. “There is still a little bit of wiggle room in that budget,” he says.
Mayor Peckford emphasized how important tourism is for North Grenville at both the ROMA and AMO conferences this year. “There is no reason that we can’t have a more robust tourism industry,” she said at the council meeting. “I commend staff for seizing the opportunity to apply for these dollars. It certainly will enable a more comprehensive tourism strategy that’s so important to what we are trying to build here.”