Former Lands & Forests Issues Manager
For the past few months NOTO has been finalizing Moving Forward: A Resource-Based Tourism Industry Fit for Future. This report was prepared by NOTO in support of Provincial Resource-Based Tourism Working Group discussions. Now complete, in April it was presented to senior officials in the ministries of Natural Resources, Tourism and Northern Development and Mines. It contains a number of recommendations that if acted on will help encourage investment in Ontario’s resource-based tourism industry. Following is the Executive Summary as it appears in the report. An electronic copy of the complete report is available at http://www.noto.ca/fm/general/MovingForward.pdf
NOTO would like to acknowledge the support of Ministry of Natural Resources and working group members in preparing this report.
he Provincial Resource-Based Tourism Working Group was established early in 2006 to discuss the policy environment and associated challenges relevant to Ontario’s resource-based tourism industry. The multi-ministerial and industry represented group has since met on several occasions and this report reflects the positive discussions and some of the core work to date.
This report, Moving Forward, provides an overview of Ontario’s resource-based tourism industry. It describes the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats pertaining to it as identified by the working group at the inaugural meeting. Given the group’s focus on identifying and resolving issues causing uncertainty in the industry, it describes a new tenure approach based on market values that will move short term land use permits for outpost cabins to longer term leases. The report also examines how the resource-based tourism industry is regulated in other jurisdictions.
From the information presented and considered in Moving Forward, NOTO, the provincial association that has represented the interests of this diverse industry since 1927 is recommending a number of steps to encourage industry investment and further strengthen relations between industry and government.
Moving Forward Recommendations and Supporting Rationale
Resource-based tourism businesses depend on continuing access to public resources. Because various resources are regulated in different ways and permissions for use are not necessarily attached to the business, operators must deal with a complex and confusing system that creates a heavy workload and investment uncertainty. NOTO therefore recommends that:
The allocation system be reviewed and consolidated so that all allocations are administered in a clear and consistent way.
Allocations be administered jointly by industry and government through a mechanism that is open, transparent and accountable.
Attach to the business
Automatically transfer when a business is sold
Be transferable on a short or long-term basis between legitimate tourism businesses
The “sense of wilderness” is a major factor determining the economic value of a resource-based tourism experience. Forestry and other industrial activities can significantly change the level of remoteness, primarily through the construction of access roads. Although protections are sought through the forest management planning process, there are no guarantees that an access road built for forestry purposes will not bring with it activity that will compromise the experience of those in search of a remote experience. NOTO therefore recommends that:
An improved framework to manage the use of motorized vehicles and maintain remote values on Crown land be developed.
Because quality natural resources add value to businesses, many operators have implemented voluntary management strategies to manage the impact guest activities may have on the natural resource base. Very few opportunities exist to benefit from MNR science and experience or to provide information and data to MNR. NOTO therefore recommends that:
Government and industry develop partnership approaches based on sharing of expertise that encourage more effective management of Ontario’s natural resources and communicate these approaches to industry.
Mechanisms to regulate the resource-based tourism industry are complex and disjointed, with some activities or industry segments highly regulated and others not regulated at all. There is also a widespread belief by many operators that there is a large underground economy of illegitimate resource-based tourism businesses. NOTO therefore recommends that:
A clear, comprehensive and inclusive definition of resource-based tourism businesses in Ontario be developed.
A formal licensing system that is mandatory for all tourism businesses that fall within the established definition be created.
Assign licence administration to a suitable industry partner in order to enhance accountability to the industry and provide revenue to support industry development.
This article was taken from pages 25 & 26 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Spring 2008 Issue