President's Message - July 2019

Thursday Aug 01, 2019

Author: Hilary Chambers

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President's Message

Well folks, we are truly in the thick of summer. The tourists and cottagers have arrived in droves and I couldn’t be happier that we have some new blood for the mosquitoes! This time of year at our resort we are constantly racing, it seems like our to-do list grows longer by the day. I’m sure everyone feels the same, rushing to make everything a perfect experience for our guests.

I was impressed with the red tape challenge and the fact that we were met with someone from the government who wanted to hear about the challenges that tourism operators face and discuss ways that the government could make things easier for small business in the province and especially the North.

In talking with many operators, it has become clear that outside companies we rely on to operate our business can have a crippling effect on some and have even caused a few resorts to go private or close up shop. Between high insurance rates, unreliable Bell phone/Internet and TV, our lack of cell coverage, as well as Hydro rates that have just about doubled, it makes us waste a good amount of our precious time and money trying to have it all resolved. Time is money, and I don’t know how many of us have countless hours to peruse contracts, call in with unresolved issues on loop, and get put on hold by customer service agents who have no clue about customer service.

I couldn’t help but rant about this as we are tasked with doubling Tourism Receipts by 2020, but how can this even be possible if the government won’t invest in proper maintenance of roads and infrastructure, or provide oversight to companies who operate a monopoly and bill customers for services they have no intention of providing.How can small business in remote and Northern Communities thrive when we are constantly told by corporations that they cannot provide the services they are billing us for because “it’s an economic issue.” The Province needs to step in here and make it possible for business in the North to thrive.

With the recent changes by MNRF creating new fines and many of their previous fines doubling, I’m concerned that it will now appear that they care less about conservation and more about enforcement and revenue generation. I do not disagree that we need to be tough on people who deliberately break the rules. I’m definitely someone who puts a lot of time and effort into conservation, but I also think that it’s important to have clear and concise guidelines around any and all infractions and the related fines. Having such a long laundry list of infractions can muddy the waters and make it hard for both operators and guests to have a solid grasp on this new landscape. It’s just one more thing that we need to teach ourselves in the height of busy season, am I right?!

All of this being said, I think we need to give all in our industry a pat on the back. Not only do we knock it out of the park with our great Northern hospitality and customer service, but we introduce many newcomers to Canada what it means to be Canadian. Our genuine warm and friendly demeanor along with a slick sense of humour and great pride and love of the land is something that guests remark on constantly. There is something so special about watching a young child catching his/her first fish, or groups of people appreciating some good old R&R in the rugged outdoors.

NOTO works hard on behalf of its members and everyone in the industry to lobby government on our behalf on a whole range of issues. If you want to be a part of the solution put your name in to run for a seat on the board, donate to our fundraising auction at the summit or donate to our Lobby Fund. Our efforts are successful due in large part to the people who support us. To learn more about the Lobby Fund, please contact the NOTO office.

I hope everyone has a busy and productive season.

Yours in Tourism,

Hilary Chambers

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