By John Francis, Bruce Peninsula Press
Bruce Peninsula residents and tourism operators never know what to expect in October. Some years it’s the fifth month of summer. This year, even though there were no major storms, wind and rain kept residents indoors and scared off most of the would-be day trippers.
Boat tours out of Tobermory were cancelled on Thanksgiving weekend due to wind warnings.
A week later on Oct 18, Owen Sound Transportation Company pulled the plug one day early, cancelling both scheduled ferry sailings on the final day of the season due to gale warnings.
Online discussions leaned towards the view that the bad weather was nicely timed. A partial lockdown in Toronto and Peel Region would send a lot of people north looking for a party to join; the weather tamped that down nicely.
Tourism Advisory Board
Northern Bruce Peninsula’s Municipal Council has discussed the need for a Tourism Advisory Board on countless occasions but never quite managed to hammer out the details. The Sept 16 Special Meeting on Traffic Management seems to have convinced all concerned that the matter is urgent. Council requested a Staff Report for the Oct 13 Meeting.
The Staff Report, prepared by Community Services Manager Ryan Deska, appears in the Oct 13 Agenda. “The Northern Bruce Peninsula Tourism Advisory Board is a voluntary group of local stakeholders dedicated to developing, implementing and maintaining tourism management practices…”
The proposed TAB will be co-chaired by the municipality and Parks Canada. Stakeholder members will include: Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula (Staff & Councillor), Bruce County, Parks Canada, Ontario Parks, Saugeen Ojibway Nation, RTO7 (Provincial Tourism Agency), Bruce Trail Association, Tobermory and District Chamber of Commerce.
“The leadership team will be responsible for ensuring consultations take place with other key stakeholders to ensure a diversity of ideas and viewpoints are included. These stakeholders will be known as the ‘Strategic Partners’: MCTS, Bruce Peninsula Environment Group, Tourism Operators, Residents Associations/Community Organizations… When appropriate and relevant, focus groups may be formed by the leadership team with Strategic Partners. These will be informal gatherings to solicit input on Tourism Management issues/initiatives being discussed by the Lead Organizations.”
The TAB’s Purpose is described as:
“• Ensure tourism management within NBP is delivered and governed by a leadership group representative of the responsible stakeholders and informed and balanced by an effective mix of government, business, residents and non-profit/community groups.
• Develop a work plan and make recommendations on actions that Lead Organizations can consider for implementation; initially, to identify and accomplish some ”quick wins”.
• Identify long-term, sustainable revenue streams to pay for better infrastructure, services and staff, such as paid parking, municipal accommodation tax or visitor amenity fee.
• Identify gaps in tourism products and barriers to positive tourist experiences and work to fill gaps and address barriers
• Provide a forum for discussion and coordination of tourism and economic development initiatives and programs with other community groups and agencies;
• Deliver community and industry education on new opportunities for sustainable tourism.
• Implement the 2018 Northern Bruce Peninsula Sustainable Tourism Management Plan.”
Council accepted the Report as written; staff will move forward to convene an initial meeting of the proposed participants.
Before she was on Council, Megan Myles was Chair of Bruce Peninsula Environment Group. During her tenure, BPEG pushed for a sustainable tourism study. This initiative resulted in the 2018 NBP Sustainable Tourism Management Plan. Councillor Myles is pleased to see the formation of an Tourism Advisory Board.
She points out that “ultimately the success of this board will depend on the willingness of the stakeholder groups to dedicate resources behind it”.