On January 16, 2018, Headwaters Tourism, in partnership with Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism, invited rural tourism stakeholders, destination marketing organizations and tourism businesses to join in on the first Rural Tourism Symposium: Where Tourism Gets Real.
This collaborative undertaking, supported by Grey County Tourism, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, the Town of Orangeville, QuinteVation, Tourism Simcoe County, the City of Orillia and Société Économique de L’Ontario was a one-day event designed to raise the profile of rural tourism as an integral part of the provincial and national visitor experience, and will include content specifically targetted to the rural tourism industry.
This symposium inspired tourism operators to develop Ontario and Canadian signature experiences that align with our provincial and national tourism partners; and featured keynote speaker Lisa LaVecchia from Destination Ontario, as well as speakers from Destination Canada and other rural tourism destinations across the province.
Delegates discovered best practices in rural tourism, were inspired by rural tourism leaders, and helped give a voice to the importance of rural destinations in showcasing the best of Ontario and Canada.
The Symposium took place at Orangeville’s Town Hall Opera House (87 Broadway, Orangeville) on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018, the agenda included:
- Registration & continental breakfast (8:00 am to 8:45 am)
- Welcome & opening remarks
- Signature Experiences: where rural tourism shines!
- Showcasing rural & secondary markets to national & international visitors
David Robinson, VP, Strategy & Stakeholder Relations, Destination Canada
- Networking break
- Keynote presentation: Destination Ontario
Lisa LaVecchia, President & CEO, Destination Ontario
- A voice for the Ontario tourism industry
Beth Potter, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
- Lunch (12:00 pm – 1:30 pm)
- What does it take to be exceptional? (rural tourism operator panel)
Panelists: Briagh Hoskins-Hasbury, Susanne Spence-Wilkins, Bill Cutt and Gary Brown | Moderator: Tracie Bertrand
- DMOs across rural Ontario: their role in tourism development
Panelists: Bryan Plumstead, Audrey Ansell, Anne-Marie Forcier, Michele Harris | Moderator: Kristy Adams
- Networking break
- Rural tourism alignment: how do rural tourism operators and destinations support and enhance provincial & national tourism strategies
Panelists: David Peacock (RTO4); Beth Potter (TIAO); Lisa LaVecchia (Destination Ontario); David Robinson (Destination Canada) | Moderator: Michele Harris
- Closing remarks & next steps
- Cocktail reception (5:00 pm – 6:30 pm) (Atrium)
- Headwaters Tourism Awards of Excellence (6:30 pm) (Theatre)
The conference was followed by a cocktail reception in the Town Hall Atrium at 5:00 pm and the Headwaters Tourism Awards of Excellence at 6:30 pm, following the conference closing cocktail reception.