I’m looking at a sea of wildflowers and while they are beautiful, they remind me that I need to cut our lawn yet again! We have received a lot of rain in the past couple months, but it seems that sunny days are ahead! Hello summer and bring on bass fishing season!
Many of us are feverishly getting our resorts ready for the rush of summer guests who are giddy to escape the city and relax in the tranquility of the wilderness. Summer in Cottage Country is an iconic Canadian rite of passage, and these memories are cherished through generations. I feel a great sense of pride that the people in our industry are the gatekeepers of all that it means to be Canadian with our warm hospitality that welcomes those from both home and abroad with open arms and friendly smiles.
Tourism is definitely an underestimated sector. Not only do we introduce millions of tourists to the wilderness, but we share with them a style of hospitality that spreads how Canadians are viewed around the globe. Tourism is also big business in Ontario. Tourism generates over $34 billion dollars, and the spin off to communities is huge. Tourism in Rural and Northern communities is the engine that keeps communities alive by keeping schools open and creating a host of spin off jobs from construction, to transportation, food service and supporting local artisans. It is not solely about heads in beds. We are an integral part in moving visitors around the region and also their spending power.
As you may know there has recently been a cabinet shuffle The Honourable Jeff Yurek is now the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Honourable Lisa MacLeod is now the Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport. Laurie and I were quick to welcome these Ministers to their new positions and remind them that NOTO, now in its 90th year, is THE organization that works with government to help ensure that regulations and policies support a strong and vibrant outdoor tourism sector. While we were sad to see Minister Tibollo go as he was a strong advocate for tourism, we welcome the opportunity to create new relationships that will ensure our mutual success moving forward.
Our strategic plan continues to be a priority and is shaping the vision for our future. As an organization in its 90th year which has faced challenges in the past; as every organization with our lengthy history would, we have shown that we have staying power in an ever changing industry and we are willing to evolve and improve to meet the changing needs of our industry.
Many of you are aware that we have our lobbyist Kelly Mitchell working on our behalf. Supporting our Lobby Fund is essential and has already created a significant change in the way our organization is being viewed by government. We are on the cusp of making some really great strides by working with various levels of government and building relationships. I would like to thank everyone who has donated to this fund to this point and have made this a possibility. NOTO once again stands at the forefront as an organization that speaks on the behalf on Outdoor Tourism Operators in the Province.
Please contact the NOTO office to discuss potential contributions to the Lobby Fund. Also, remember that membership payments are due by June 31st, 2019. As some of you may know, being an organization that survives on memberships and funded projects is not an easy task. The industry and Government rely on us on a range of issues but we require funds to provide the necessary supports. Please contact the office to pay your membership as soon as you can!
I challenge each of our members to talk to their neighbours and industry colleagues about our great organization. Imagine what can be done if every member brought in one new member? By working together we can continue to make a difference for tourism in Northern Ontario.
Best of luck this season!
Hilary Chambers, NOTO President
Pine Grove Resort Cottages