March RSS Advertorial
You may have seen the recent Resident Sentiment Survey (RSS) that was shared online
in December. In this third installment of six, we look at the County’s Department of
Tourism and its function when it comes to not only promoting but also developing
tourism in the region.
Through the RSS, one thing that was made clear is that many of you do not have a clear view on what our
county’s department of tourism does. And indeed, both the model and function of this department has
changed dramatically over the last year.
Prior to January 2022, Haliburton County focused solely on marketing and promoting the region to the
rest of Ontario, Canada, and indeed, the world. As such, residents wouldn’t really see those efforts as it
was all about communicating out to potential visitors rather than having conversations within. Since
January 2022, the County has made several fundamental changes to the department, bringing in a
Director of Economic Development and Tourism, hiring a Manager of Tourism, and most significantly,
introducing a Destination Management Plan (DMP) to guide the development of tourism here through a
community-based management process.
The DMP informs smart destination development and marketing decisions, focusing on building
communities as much as promoting them, and driving higher conversion rates for more local small
businesses year-round. For these reasons, and many more, community-based tourism is a priority within
the County. If you look at the 2019 visitor data for the entire region (RTO11), which includes the
Haliburton Highlands, it does clearly demonstrate just how important the visitor economy is for our
2019 Visitor Data for RTO11 Region:
• Total visits: More than 4 million each year (4,235,461)
• Total tourism receipts: Over $637 million ($637,171,861)
• Average spend per overnight visitor: $231
• Average spend per visitor: $142
• Average overnight number of stays: 3 days
• Approximately 650 tourism industry businesses
So, what exactly does our tourism department do? Well, there are several activities that the team
undertakes to build the Haliburton Highlands into a year-round destination. When it comes to engaging
with potential visitors to the region, they produce a visitor newsletter that continues to outperform
industry standards and have made many new enhancements (new content and resources) to the tourism
website – MyHaliburtonHighlands.com. And this work is paying off – 2022 saw the highest number of
visits to the website ever, with a year-over-year increase of 19% from 2021 and a 34% increase since 2019.
When it comes to local stakeholders, the department works directly with individual tourism businesses
and not-for-profits conducting in-person visits (over 75 to-date), along with providing several one-onone
business consultations. It also produces regular emails from the desk of the Manager of Tourism, to
keep people as informed as possible on any news that might impact their business.
On the industry relations side, the department works with the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
(TIAO), a provincial tourism advocacy agency, on tourism-related issues, and meets regularly with the
Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) to address workforce challenges in the industry. It has
an active partnership with the Workforce Development Board (WBD), HCDC and has a marketing
partnership with Ontario Highlands Tourism Association (OHTO). The Economic Development &
Tourism division launched the County’s first Annual Tourism and Business Summit in 2022, with plans
for a 2nd Annual Summit coming this May.
Stay tuned for more details on the survey feedback, including what we’ve learned and how we plan to put
that information into action. In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, please get in touch with
Tracie Bertrand, Manager of Tourism for Haliburton County, at firstname.lastname@example.org.