A Year of Progress...

Meghan James, Chief Governing Officer

It has been an exciting year for the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) and its Board of Directors. As the tourism industry continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, OHTO has been on the front lines supporting the tourism industry as it continues to shift out of ‘recovery’ and into ‘discovery.’ 

Our focus in 2023 has been on strengthening the communities in Ontario’s Highlands while launching full speed into our Wander Sustainably approach, focusing on community alignment, inclusivity, and sustainability. 

OHTO has made significant progress on delivering on our support for industry over the past year. Our new Member Portal was launched in late 2023 and has already become an invaluable resource to help members connect, learn, and share, all in one place. 

The Member Portal is an important step in garnering support from members as they learn more about our Wander Sustainably approach and how they can also contribute to becoming a region focused on creating more inclusive and sustainable ways of welcoming guests. 

OHTO’s new Expand Your Knowledge series is another tool introduced in 2023 to support businesses as they pursue continuing education on tourism-specific topics and to keep up to date on shifts within the tourism market and changes to the tourism culture and space. 

The year 2023 was also a year of progress for OHTO in acquiring accreditations that mirror our commitment and values. An exciting first step for OHTO in supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community was becoming Rainbow Registered certified. 

OHTO is also pursuing a Regional Sustainability Accreditation through GreenStep, has committed to the Sustainable Tourism 2030 pledge and we are also excited to have developed a Sustainability Action Plan. These actions and certifications reflect our commitment to support the environment and the creation of a welcoming place for all.

They are on call day after day to ensure our initiatives stay true to our vision and we continue to connect with our communities in deeper and more genuine ways. 

We are looking forward to continuing this work into 2024 and establishing the Ontario’s Highlands’ tourism region as a best-in-class destination that offers exceptional experiences for guests while enhancing the quality of life of our communities.

...Growing Awareness, Knowledge, and Partnerships in 2024

Nicole Whiting, Executive Director

After three tumultuous years, the Ontario’s Highlands tourism industry is poised to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to have supported our tourism sector during this difficult time and come out the other side with a robust network and greater commitment to building a stronger, more resilient, and sustainable tourism community.

Additionally, there is growing appreciation for the value of tourism and the benefits it brings to the Ontario’s Highlands’ region and that value goes far beyond increasing economic bottom line. When a destination focuses on developing a thriving visitor economy in a responsible way, we know they simultaneously strengthen their community and enhance the quality of life for its residents.

With this in mind, our plans for 2024 include a renewed focus on building relationships with our communities and growing membership within the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO). Recruiting more tourism champions into our organization is important because membership with OHTO is about making a commitment to a sustainable future. Our ability to make a difference and reach our potential as a destination requires the participation and engagement from those who believe in this vision as much as we do!

All of the programs we offer to our members including our robust Comewander.ca digital brand platform, our Ride the Highlands Motorcycling initiative, our partnership projects, and our new member portal, are anchored in our responsible tourism principles and executed with best in class approaches to building awareness of our region, growing capacity in our sector and leveraging resources to maximize outcomes.

We are optimistic about the year ahead and look forward to over-coming the inevitable challenges our destination will continue to face knowing we have a dedicated and passionate sector to call on. The team at OHTO may be small, but together we can become the destination all others aspire to.

Interested in learning more about what's coming for tourism in Ontario's Highlands in 2024? OHTO is hosting an Expand Your Knowledge webinar "Unlocking Tourism Trends: Navigating the Path to Success with OHTO" on January 24, 2024 at 10 a.m. This webinar will invite viewers to take a deep dirve into the latest touirsm data and trends for Ontario's Highlands to make the most of the 2024 tourism season. 

Register for this session here