Inspiration, Heritage and Celebration – It’s Coming Together

Tourism is one facet of the strategic plan, Inspiring Innisfil 2020, being prepared for the Town of Innisfil that will be presented in a Final Report to Council on March 9. But interest and enthusiasm is building, and the wheels are already turning on a South Simcoe Tourism initiative, Celebrate Lake Simcoe.

This week, members of the South Simcoe Tourism Working Group filled Town Hall. The crowd included representatives of Chambers of Commerce, councillors, restaurateurs, event organizers, tourism operators, farm representatives, media broadcasters and others. They came to hear Dan Taylor, the Economic Development Officer (EDO) from Prince Edward County describe how a ten-year effort has built the tourism economy of that area. Prince Edward County is an island community of about 25,000 permanent residents that attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year and generates about $65 million in economic activity.

Mr. Taylor offered a lot of practical advice and insight into the strategy and process that led to their success. He talked about identifying a niche market and marketing a way of life. He noted that visitors from major urban centres like Toronto are eager for new and enjoyable experiences that reflect a different way of life. Prince Edward County built on its agricultural and culinary assets, eventually earning the accolade of ‘gastronomic capital of Ontario’ from the Globe and Mail.

His talk led me to reflect on the heritage of Innisfil, first as a pioneer agricultural area, later famous as the source of North America’s purest ice from Lake Simcoe prior to refrigeration, and next a seasonal camping and cottage playground. Innisfil has links to our railroad heritage too, now tenuously continued by the GO Transit commuter trains.

How these threads come together to reflect our way of life in Innisfil to tourists is open to interpretation and inspiration. By choosing to live here – and many of us made that choice – we placed some values at least as high as, or higher than, the pursuit of status and wealth that predominates in a metropolitan setting. What was it for you? In some cases, enjoyment of natural beauty, opportunities for outdoor recreation, creative inspiration and expression, healthier environment, quieter community and a slower pace, time with family and friends. That’s our way of life. Inviting neighbours to join us – that’s tourism.

Some things that we take for granted such as a day at the beach or on the water, a walk on a forest trail, a lakeside sunset, an evening campfire are the basic ingredients of a visitor experience. How they are combined and enhanced through food and festival or celebrated in art and music is up to our imagination and creativity. The movement to Celebrate Lake Simcoe is gaining momentum and Mr. Taylor encouraged everyone to collaborate with their community partners for the greatest impact. To that end, I encourage everyone to attend the Special Meeting of Council on March 9 to see the presentation of Innisfil’s strategic plan, including the economic development and tourism components.

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4 thoughts on “Inspiration, Heritage and Celebration – It’s Coming Together

  1. Thanks Jill at Munros. How business owners in Innisfil and area can help is the following;

    a) call your Innisfil council members and Mayor and CAO and tell them your business supports Tourism Radio

    b) we will be providing prizes announced on the air for tourists to win and to continue to listen to tourism radio every day they drive the 400 so even small businesses can donate prizes (free golf game, restaurant meal, or gift for a store) and we will announce that prize on the station

    c) But mostly what tourism operators can do is to call Georgian Downs/OLG Slots, Casino Rama, Cookstown Outlet Mall, the 400 Market, Super 8 Hotels, all who currently occupy those important billboards in our radio broadcast zone and ask them to cooperate with a small amount of billboard space to state “Tune Radio for Tourism Info: In addition other businesses like Munro’s have frontage along the 400 highway like KOA, MacDonalds at 89, the golf course etc and they could assist with signage as well.

    Call me Douglas Edwards at 705-725-1642 and see you at the March 9 meeting on Tourism

  2. HOW can we help? Munros furnishings has been apart of Innisfil since 1984 and are registered as a tourist attraction. Plus we have a g reat location right at the corner of Innisfil Beach Rd and Hwy 400. Our actual address is 2060 Commerce Park Drive.

    • Good to hear from you. I think there are a few important steps you can take:
      • Attend the Council meeting on March 9 to hear about Innisfil’s strategic plan, and what is proposed to develop tourism, industry and local employment.
      • The consultant recommends hiring a Tourism Coordinator and an Economic Development Officer. I believe this has the support of council. Let them know you support this initiative and follow the progress of this objective through to implementation.
      • Get involved with the Regional Tourism initiative sponsored through the Ontario government. Innisfil is in region RT07. You can review documents and plans for this region on the web at: http://region7transition.ca/cms/more-info. Find out who is on the RT07 Board and participate in RT07 member meetings.
      • As Dan Taylor urged, collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Spread the word to your business neighbours, invite them for an informal chat and get-together. Discuss what you would like to see happen, who could work together, what you need, what you can offer…
      • Have you (i.e. – any local businesses) got a billboard, placemat, brochure, web site or window where you could consider giving a plug to Tourism Radio 96.9? I know Douglas Edwards would be thrilled to hear from you.
      Note to other readers: Did you know that Canada is home to a collection of the “World’s Largest”, like moose, beaver, lobster etc. in towns all across Canada. And you can find the World’s Largest Functional Rocking Horse here in Innisfil at Munro’s Furniture, just off Highway 400.

  3. I attended the Dan Taylor event and enjoyed his comments particularly those about co-operation between tourism operations and the collection of visitor data and data-mining and attracting visitors passing us by. This is exactly our marketing plan at Tourism Radio http://www.1800FM.com.

    That is why our non commercial radio station 96.9 FM starting this spring 2011 needs the support of the key billboard advertisers on the highway 400 between highway 89 Cookstown exit and the Innisfil Beach Road exit.

    These operations like Cookstown Outlet Mall, Casino Rama, OLG Slots, 400 Market and Georgian Downs, and other business owners like KOA, the golf course and other businesses with frontage along the highway could assist by providing a small portion of their billboard space to state “Tune 96.9 FM Tourism Radio”

    We are prepared to help the tourism economy of our towns but we need these companies to be good corporate citizens too and to assist with their existing billboard space while still being able to advertise their own businesses on the majority of their space on their own billboards.

    Dan Taylor also stressed that the media needs to be courted and the potential for our towns is definitely the GTA Toronto market of tourists who are passing through Simcoe county on their way to other counties particularly Muskoka on the 400 highway. We together can attract some of those tourists off the highway with billboard space and our non commercial radio station.

    The consultants interviewed Tourism radio for the Inspiring Innisfil project and listened to many of our ideas and the consultants included in their draft report that a signage and tourism information system is needed in, around and especially on the 400 highway entrances to Innisfil.

    Let’s listen to the consultants because they were paid a lot amount of federal $ tax money to do their research and recos so lets allow tourists on the 400 be able to listen to Tourism Radio!

    In addition Simcoe County council gave their support this week to Tourism Radio by supporting encouraging the billboard advertisers to assist Tourism Radio. Simcoe County Council includes all the Mayors and Deputy Mayors from all the municipalities in Simcoe county. Thanks for your vote of confidence Mayor and Deputy Mayor!

    Interested companies, volunteers and social groups who wish to assist Tourism Radio contact 705-725-1642

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