The OHTO’s Manager, Nicole Whiting, was recently featured on the popular National Capital region’s news website www.YourOttawaRegion.com. Whiting attended the June 28 meeting of Renfrew County Council to discuss the great tourism initiatives happening in Ontario’s Highlands, and to remind of the importance of investing in tourism in the region. Continue reading below to find out what else the website had to say about our organization, or check out the full article here.
Whiting stands tall with county tourism talk
OHTO manager addresses Renfrew County council
She’s an Alberta gal, but a sparkling advertisement for spending tourism dollars in Renfrew County. Nicole Whiting, of the two-year-old Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization, manages one of the province’s 13 regional tourism organizations that are working to attract more tourists to their respective backyards.
That sometimes takes advertising, which OHTO is doing mostly the digital way, but also by word of mouth.
The OHTO manager attended the June 28 meeting of Renfrew County council where she was the only delegation on the agenda. Given that everyone was heading into Canada Day weekend, she said it was appropriate that travel and leisure was on the minds of many residents.
She also shared her own enthusiasm for her new home.
Brought up in Alberta, she left Calgary to come East to study. She returned West to work for a while, but came East again, to Renfrew County, where she and husband Ken Whiting began Heliconia Press. She left the company two years ago to join OHTO, but her husband and staff continue to produce special programming for NBC Sports, Outside Television and the World Fishing Network.
In her position as OHTO manager, she has the task of spearheading tourism’s profile in the local region that consists of Renfrew, Haliburton Lennox and Addington, Hastings, Frontenac and Lanark counties.
It’s the second largest tourism region in Ontario, at 23,840 square kilometres. The region also features more than 700 lakes and major river systems, including the Rideau Canal, more than 400 animal species, and over 20 species if fish.
Notable to-visit locations on OHTO’s website include one of Canada’s smallest jail houses, Canada’s only clock museum, and scores of canoe and kayak routes that have helped name the Ottawa Valley the Whitewater Capital of Canada.
Whiting says the region needs so share its world-class outdoor experiences with the world. “And we can do that, particularly because of the fact that online anyone can reach target markets,” she stresses.”
“No longer do you need multi-million dollar budgets to reach the people you think would be attracted to the types of experiences you have to offer.” With an annual budget of about $1 million, Whiting said the organization is using its tight budget primarily in the area of digital advertising to increase the region’s attractiveness to tourists.
She spoke about all the “great tourism initiatives that are happening in the Valley,” and the cooperative work being done in partnership with various organizations, including the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association, to “help support and leverage tourism excellence across the region.” She also told listeners that tourism is Ontario’s ninth-ranked export industry.
“Given these economic realities, this has changed how government views in ministry of tourism, culture and sport. It’s now considered an economic ministry.” Meanwhile, OHTO is among 13 regional tourism organizations created in 2010, and funded by the provincial government, to promote tourism. Provincial support for the 13 tourism organizations includes $40 million in annual funding as they press the theme of Go Tourism.
Each regional tourism organization, therefore, has received base funding of $500,000, and proportional allocation that was $409,000 for this year. That’s the lowest of the 13 tourism organizations, with that amount expected to rise about two per cent per year.
New, for 2013, will be the introduction of a partner-funding program. This may result in additional funds, amounting to up to 20 per cent of the proportional-allocation funding “to encourage other organizations, and municipalities, who have an interest in tourism, to work with Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization.”
With about 500 members, OHTO is a free-membership-based organization that is open to tourism business within OHTO’s boundaries.
The 15-member board of directors meets once monthly, while OHTO’s day-to-day activities are handled by a staff that consists of manager Whiting, marketing and communications co-ordinator Emily Sheff, tourism development and industry relations co-ordinator Stephanie Hessel, and administrative assistant Laura Slater. Its offices are located in the County of Renfrew headquarters at 9 International Drive, Pembroke. To reach OHTO, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 613-629-6486 or toll-fee at 1-855-629-6486.