President’s Message – Mar 2019

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President’s Message
Hilary Chambers

Spring is almost upon us…I can feel it, or at least I am wishing for it. I still have mountains of melting snow on our property, and hoping that the thaw happens peacefully. This was quite a winter for large amounts of snow and super cold temperatures for Northern Ontario. Our snowmobile guests loved it! I however, am looking forward to blackfly season. There is opportunity in the fact that people are yearning for spring, this is the perfect time of year to market the beauty of Northern Ontario, and the magic of springtime, fishing, reconnecting with family and friends and planning that memorable hunting trip.

NOTO is now in its 90th year! What a time to celebrate our industry and our organization. There has never been a better time to join NOTO. If you are new and considering what membership can mean for you, I encourage you to reach out to Laurie at the NOTO office or any of our members and ask them why they think NOTO is such a strong asset for them. It’s not just about boating forms, and deals on merch, but a family of like-minded operators who share your wins, challenges and point of view, people who support one another through thick and thin, people whose love of the North, runs deep and true. It’s also about policy and working to make sure that government hears and understands the challenges we face as operators in Northern Ontario, it’s removing the red- tape that hampers business and creating alliances in government and industry that will both protect the resources we hold dear and open opportunities that will make our industry more profitable. It’s about creating funding opportunities for operators to access capital investment, and funding for upgrades and marketing initiatives to take their business to the next level. It’s about working with MNRF to ensure operators are aware of current regulations, and working together to come up with a plan that ensures sustainable resource use and management of forestry & game species. There is so much that NOTO does for our industry that often goes unseen, but this organization has been a voice of and driving force in Northern Ontario tourism since 1929!

In order for NOTO to be effective we need the support of our membership, so if you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to get your membership in for this current year. Many initiatives are underway to support the industry and our operators. I am very excited that the Strategic Planning Process has come up with some wonderful directives and I can see a strong future ahead for NOTO & Tourism in Northern Ontario.

NOTO had a very strategic and well thought out response to MTCS on the Development of an Ontario Tourism Strategy. Government as a whole needs to work together to support tourism growth. It was suggested that the time is now to consider the development of a Northern Ontario Tourism Act, which would signal that this government is serious about the importance of tourism in Ontario. The NOTO response touched on many areas including improving the business climate for tourism operators by reducing the burdens of red tape across the many government agencies that related to operating, expanding and upgrading facilities. A mechanism to consult with the tourism industry on regulations, policy development and how to promote tourism as a long-term career choice. As well as, continuing to promote to domestic and US as well as overseas markets that will grow and support the outdoor tourism sector. The response went into detail on suggestions related to embracing a visitor first approach in tourism, improving sector alignment, supporting community and business development and more. Our tourism industry is dependent upon a strong government that recognizes that we are a key economic driver that generates and contributes significant tax revenues.

NOTO with its 90 year history of service in the industry as resource and advocacy is well positioned to lead discussions and consultation with government& industry. It is time that tourism in Northern Ontario is recognized across all ministries, agencies, municipalities and organizations as a valuable industry that with a vital part to play in the future and prosperity of the Province.

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