Parry Sound Area Tourism Summit

In October 2015, Regional Tourism Organization 12 (Explorers’ Edge) in partnership with the Town of Parry Sound, Carling Township, the Township of McDougall, Seguin Township, the Township of McKellar and the Township of The Archipelago embarked on an exercise to gain an understanding of the current roles of various tourism stakeholder organizations in the Parry Sound Area and clarify the best future direction.

Both the RTO and REDAC has received and reviewed the analysis and recommendations.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact James Murphy, Executive Director of RTO12 (705) 706-1649.

Downloadable Tourism Activities Analysis and Recommendations PDF
February 2016

REDAC PowerPoint Presentation PDF

Carolyn O’Donnell Consulting was retained to work with information gathered from Parry Sound Area Tourism Industry Stakeholders and Tourism Operators to present a draft report, facilitate a half day discussion with stakeholders followed by a final report based on discussion outcomes. The goals of the exercise were to:

  • Identify potential service gaps;
  • Identify potential service overlaps;
  • Align tourism stakeholder priorities; and
  • Improve collaboration and coordination of tourism programs and services.

The background work to complete this exercise included reviewing and compiling the results from a Tourism Stakeholder Questionnaire (13 participating organizations) as well as the Tourism Operator Survey (37 completed surveys).

Tourism Stakeholders were evaluated based on their level of engagement as well as human and financial resources in 8 key areas. Based on that evaluation each area was designated as either in-sync, having overlapping activities, needing
engagement/.coordination or needing overall improvement.

In summary Tourism Stakeholder input showed that:

  • There are opportunities to improve in each of the 8 strategic areas of tourism focus;
  • There are missed opportunities to leverage regional initiatives without local coordination efforts in place;
  • There does not appear to be a logical existing lead organization within the Parry Sound Area;
  • No one agency has the mandate or resources to fulfill the current gaps/opportunity; and
  • There is an appetite to collaborate.

The engagement of tourism operators in this exercise was a positive sign with 37 taking time to complete the survey. It is clear
that tourism operators are frustrated with the lack of local/regional tourism activities.

Tourism operators feel that the following activities are critical to the success of the area’s tourism industry:

1. Leadership and Coordination
2. Financial Resources
3. Partnership Development and Packaging
4. Marketing
5. Brand Development
6. Signage and Visitor Services
7. Improved Products and Experiences

63% of the respondents would like to see a new DMO established in order to accomplish tourism goals. In summary the Tourism Operator survey emphasized:

  • Tourism operators want assistance locally with grass roots product and experience development;
  • Tourism operators want to work with other owner/operators to create synergies, partnerships and packages but they need help facilitating this;
  • Tourism operators have an appetite to work with a local DMO; and
  • Tourism operates are seeking local coordination and want the entire area to work together as one.

In order to achieve the goals of the exercise there are 7 key recommendations. These recommendations are a compilation of the information gathered in the Tourism Stakeholder Questionnaire, the Tourism Operator Survey and the ideas brought forward at the Tourism Marketing Summit on December 15, 2015.

  1. Develop a Tourism Destination Management Plan
  2. Create a culture of tourism industry collaboration
  3. Provide tourism industry owner-operators with training to enhance their product/experience offerings
  4. Establish a focused marketing plan for the Parry Sound Area
  5. Provide visitor services
  6. Designate a leader
  7. Secure 3 years of funding for destination marketing and development activities

Parry Sound Tourism Summit Final Report – 08JMar16