By Diva Karen Stewart
BLUEWATER – Tourism is the world’s largest industry with revenues of over $500 billion including travel, tourism and hospitality businesses. In Huron County, tourism is a major economic driver as we welcome over one million visitors to our region each year.
Recently, the Huron Tourism Association held its annual industry event. Over 100 tourism business operators gathered at the Community Centre in Zurich to listen, learn, and interact with their peers. By bringing together tourism operators to network and to sharpen skills, to learn about the County’s tourism assets and to talk about emerging travel trends we work to provide the best possible experience for our visitors.
This year’s theme was “Hospitable Huron – We’ve got it, Let’s flaunt it!” Our keynote speakers, Rebecca Wise and Victor Barry of Cottage Life’s Dining INNvasion reality TV show, talked about the growing trend for nostalgia and urged participants to think of all the senses – smell, sounds, touch, and tastes – whether in the kitchen or through decorating their public spaces. On the same note, Rebecca noted that her visit to Huron County exceeded her expectations, saying “You don’t know hospitality until you’ve stepped out into the rural countryside.”
Heritage sites and stories, food, events and opportunities for outdoor adventures were all highlighted during three familiarization trips in the host municipality of Bluewater. Tourism operators gained a deeper awareness of just how rich in tourism assets that region of the county is.
One of the main activities during this annual event is the Brochure Swap. Participants are encouraged to gather related business brochures so they can promote each other to the world all season long. In
addition, the newly re-designed 2015 Ontario’s West Coast Travel Guide was available as were the County’s specialty brochures including Fishing, Hiking and Cycling guides – each one a valuable tool that drives business in the County each season of the year.
And, finally, more proof of the good work folks are doing in the county was shared when two awards were presented. Huron County Museum and Gaol Curator Patricia Hamilton was honoured with the Tourism Champion Award, presented for demonstrating stellar hospitality, creative marketing savvy, inclusive partnerships and forward-thinking leadership and promotion of Ontario’s West Coast. And, the Maitland Trail Association, which
celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, was awarded the Tourism Development Award for demonstrating leadership, creative invention, partnership initiatives, community impact and excellence in the tourism industry.
In Huron County, we’re open and ready for business. We look forward to welcoming you to Ontario’s West Coast for adventure, theatre, festivals, events, and food. You’ll find heritage and culture sites that share stories of our deep rural roots and you’ll find new friends offering you a warm rural hospitality.
Visit ontarioswestcoast.ca today to plan your visit today.