Greetings from the Chair!
It may be hard to believe as you drag on your winter coat and trudge through snow banks every morning, but spring IS just around the corner!
As thoughts turn towards our warmer months – and of course the highest visitation season for our region – I thought I’d share with you a new study on how arts and culture impact tourism in Ontario. It has long been apparent that arts and cultural activities contribute greatly to improved quality of life in our communities. New research now shows how much the arts and culture sector contributes to tourism throughout Ontario.
The Ontario Arts Council has recently released the Ontario Arts and Culture Tourism Profile (www.arts.on.ca/Page4922.aspx) summarizing 2010 statistics on how the arts and cultural sector intersects with tourism. Similar to what we experience in terms of visitation throughout the Ontario’s Highlands, other Canadians represent the majority of arts and culture tourists (at 66%), with 23% from America and 11% from overseas.
Also relevant to our region, museums, arts galleries and arts performances (of which Ontario’s Highlands can boast many!) each attracted 8% of overnight tourism activity in the province, with festivals and fairs attracting 5% of all overnight visitors. While these numbers may not seem overwhelming at first glance, it is important to note that arts and culture tourists represent a higher than average spending demographic, with 36% of all spending in Ontario (a much higher proportion per capita than other tourism sectors): “On average, they spent $667.00 per trip in Ontario, compared to $374.00 spent by the typical overnight tourist…Overall, arts and culture tourists outspent typical overnight tourists in Ontario at a rate of almost two-to-one.”
At the same time, “many sectors of Ontario’s economy benefited from arts and culture tourists. For example, they contributed $1.1 billion to the lodging sector, or close to two-fifths of all spending on lodging during the year (38%). The $1.1 billion spent by arts and culture overnight tourists on food and beverages accounted for one third of all overnight trip spending (34%). At $0.6 billion, these arts and culture tourists also contributed over two fifths of annual retail spending (43%) and, at $0.5 billion, one half of the entertainment/recreation spending by all overnight tourists in Ontario (51%).”
Important to note when we discuss increasing our overnight stays, arts and culture tourists account for 1/5 of ALL Canadians (18%) who took overnight trips in the province. “Arts and culture tourists spent approximately 41.2 million nights in Ontario during 2010, or close to one third of all nights spent in the province over the year (31%). At 4.4 nights, on average, members of the arts and culture sector spent over one night longer in Ontario than the typical tourist (3.1 nights).”
And finally, “based on their spending in the province, Ontario’s arts and culture tourists contributed $3.7 billion toward the province’s gross domestic product (GDP). Approximately 67,700 jobs and $2.4 billion in wages were generated in Ontario as a result of their spending.”
Clearly, arts and cultural activities represent a significant demand generator for tourism in Ontario. As we continue to grow tourism in Ontario’s Highlands, it is also clear that collaboration among our arts and cultural attractions with the accommodation, restaurant and retail sector through packaging and co-promotion can benefit the entire tourism sector throughout the region. At the same time, arts and culture tourism can provide that one-of-a-kind “experience” that is the hallmark of what today’s tourist is seeking.
So, get your creative juices flowing! Work with your local arts and cultural attractions to build visitation to your community – and to Ontario’s Highlands – for the benefit of us all!
Classic Theatre Festival