Greg Rodgers is a newcomer to tourism but has already jumped into the industry feet first, taking over a bed and breakfast in Sharbot Lake, bolstering the local tourism community and joining OHTO’s board of directors in 2020.
Greg and his wife are living examples of how tourism works hand in hand with economic development to grow communities. The couple travelled throughout the Frontenac region on day trips from their home base in Kingston long before they decided to buy a bed and breakfast. When they went looking for a property to purchase, they looked at Sharbot Lake and area with new eyes and saw the potential there.
“We are surrounded by the vacation hot zones here: Lanark County, Bon Echo Park, 1,000 Islands and Prince Edward County,” said Greg. “It seemed like the industry is always looking for the next destination to boom and we had a feeling it might be this one…we are beginning to realize this is a much more attractive and sought out area than people realize.”
After making their purchase of a former bed and breakfast perched on a cliff overlooking Sharbot Lake, Greg got to know his new home and business they chose for their retirement years.
“For the first year we never thought our bed and breakfast was in the tourism industry at all, we thought we were an accommodator, but after that we got passionate about the industry and wanted to throw ourselves into it,” said Greg.
One of the things Greg did which changed the course of tourism in Sharbot Lake was to write a short article for the local paper to encourage local tourism operators to come together and collaborate. That little article is still making waves for Greg, and what ultimately led him to join the board of directors.
It was while Greg was attending an Oh! Tourism Summit in 2019 that he met up with two influential tourism operators – Barrie Martin from Yours Outdoors in Haliburton Highlands and Chris Hinsperger from Bonnechere Caves in the Ottawa Valley – who inspired him to throw his name in the hat for the OHTO board of directors.
“The more I chatted with them [Barrie and Chris] the more I began to see how a deeper involvement with OHTO might help our industry and community,” said Greg. “I wanted to immerse myself deeper into the industry and the area and joining the board seemed like a good way to do that.”
Joining the board is modus operandi for Greg, meaning it’s normal for him to throw himself into something and in his words “go all in.”
“When I went to the summit and talked to Chris, he’s just so serious about being in the industry, so serious about how he operates as an operator, and I began to understand tourism is a serious business, it’s not child’s play,” explained Greg.
Greg sees the OHTO board of directors as a conduit for him to connect with other people in the industry and see what’s happening in other regions. His time on the board of directors has helped him to get a handle on trends in tourism and how they are impacting the area and their business, giving him a deeper insight than he may otherwise have gotten without having the added context at the regional level.
More than that, Greg is a natural networker and has embraced the opportunity to meet and connect with like minded people.
His advice for anyone thinking of applying to join the board?
“Don’t feel you have to save the whole industry, just come in and enjoy the people you’re working with…I’m on the board with really great people who I have a lot to learn from,” said Greg. “I’m enjoying just going with the flow and enjoying my time here.”
Interested in being on OHTO’s Board of Directors?
Share your vision for the future! OHTO’s Board of Directors is looking for energetic, positive and collaborative strategic thinkers to contribute to the growth of tourism in the region by volunteering to serve as a Director of the Board. Opportunities to fill vacancies are available to our members and interested individuals able to commit to a three-year term, are encouraged to review and complete the online application.
Submit your online application here.