ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – CONNECTING WITH TOURISM
I often hear the phrase “tourism is economic development” but more often than not the two are not connected, let alone well connected. I believe they should be.
Much of our tourism effort is intended to attract people to our city -- for events, festivals. sports, the arts, dining experiences and more.
All these serve a tourism purpose but they should also contribute to our investment efforts and economic development.
There is incredible value in expanding our tourism campaigns to include destination-related economic and investment elements.
Destination promotions wrapped within a tourism promotion have the power and platform to raise Barrie’s profile and create awareness beyond our borders, which can lead to business relocation as employers in all sectors look at the quality of life our city offers them and their employees, not to mention how well connected we are by highway and air.
Destination promotions also increase confidence among our existing businesses as they look at expansion, and the confidence in business and manufacturing sectors encourages new start ups.
Coordinated and multi-purposed marketing that aligns our tourism, economic development and investment messaging is critical.
To do this, I would create an economic development committee, and also include business and tourism sector representatives, to discuss how this concept can be best achieved.
We also need to partner with other governments. A more wholesome effort between Tourism Barrie and the County of Simcoe and the Regional Tourism Organization would position us to take better advantage of marketing that occurs in and around us. Given that Barrie is the largest urban city in the county – and complete with excellent hotels and dining experiences – Barrie should see an economic lift from provincial and county-led rural-related tourism campaigns.
Strong evidence exists that cities that coordinate economic development initiatives with tourism related destination promotion, are in a far better position to compete for new investments, corporate relocations, and attract a talented workforce.
Destination promotions highlight our great quality of life, our beautiful waterfront, our being well-connected to tremendous market opportunities via our highways, rail and airport services.
Let’s get down to business!