PEMBROKE, ON (April 23, 2014) – “Come in, we are awesome,” reads one of the images found within the first few pages of the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s (OHTO) new Tourism Starts With You guide. The welcoming invite, proudly displayed in the storefront of Almonte’s Hello Yellow shop, captures the message at the heart of the OHTO’s new regional strategy: that, by creating unique, memorable and visitor-centric experiences at all stages of travel, rural tourism destinations can step up their game, attract new guests and compete within a changing tourism playing field.
Released just as communities prepare to welcome visitors to the region for the summer, the guide is available for free download by visiting tourismstartswithyou.ca. It is already creating a buzz around Ontario’s Highlands for turning traditional thinking about tourism on its head. For example, it leverages the latest industry research showing a trend towards experiential travel, and encourages a shift away from supply-based tourism (selling a “product”) in favour of captivating, authentic experiences that get etched into visitors’ memories and lead to repeat visits.
“Today’s traveller is more savvy and discerning than ever before, and it is our job to learn about our customers and offer them unique, tailor-made experiences that help them develop personal connections to our destinations,” says Stephanie Hessel, Tourism Development & Industry Relations Coordinator. “By embracing the OHTO’s new regional strategy, businesses and communities can help create a strong and appealing identity for Ontario’s Highlands. We want visitors to remember our region not just for what we have to offer, like our unique small towns and pristine wilderness and lakes, but to leave feeling like they have been part of a more meaningful and engaging travel experience. This is what will leave lasting impressions with visitors and make our region truly memorable.”
Along with an explanation of how placing the visitor at the heart of tourism development enables the region to differentiate from tourism competitors, the Tourism Starts With You guide also features information on:
- The key factors that make or break a successful tourism destination;
- The value of tourism in shaping rural communities, contributing to vitality and fostering growth;
- A streamlined collaboration model that enables all tourism players to work more effectively to capture guests and lead to repeat visits;
- Tangible steps that every businesses can take immediately to strengthen their market positioning.
The Tourism Starts With You guide is an integral component of the OHTO’s “Making Shift Happen” campaign, which launched in Lanark County this February with an industry road trip that has, to date, involved nearly 60 one-on-one site visits to discuss the new regional strategy. It has been well-received by tourism stakeholders in the area.
Tourism businesses interested in booking a site visit are encouraged to contact the OHTO at 1-855-629-OHTO. Regular updates from the road trip, including photos, are also posted to the OHTO’s Twitter account (@ohtoInsider), using #OHTOontheroad.
About the OHTO
The Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) is a not-for-profit organization mandated by the Province of Ontario to increase tourism within the counties of Haliburton, Lanark, and Renfrew and portions of Frontenac, Hastings, and Lennox and Addington. Find out more at www.ohto.ca.
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