Guelph selected for global strategic tourism initiative

Guelph, ON, May 29, 2015 – Guelph has been selected for DestinationNEXT, a global strategic tourism initiative to help grow local tourism economies.

Colleen Clack, general manager of Culture, Tourism and Community Investment, made the announcement at Monday night’s City Council meeting and explained the initiative is a partnership between the City of Guelph and Ontario’s Regional Tourism Organization 4 (RTO4).

“Guelph has huge potential to grow its tourism sector, and this project will help us develop that potential—at no cost to local property taxpayers,” said Guelph’s Mayor, Cam Guthrie.

Clack added, “The due diligence and review processes undertaken in the past few years have served as important building blocks for tourism development in Guelph. This work has been a key factor in positioning Guelph as a city ready to develop a strategic road map for tourism development, and in fact, it’s one of the main reasons Guelph was selected to participate in DestinationNEXT.”

The focus of DestinationNEXT, an initiative of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), is to help destination marketing organizations, such as Visit Guelph, assess their current positions and provide them with practical strategies for success in a dramatically changing tourism world.

“The 2014 public consultation identified the need for a strategy that engages all key aspects of the community. The appeal of the DestinationNEXT project is its focus on developing a community-embraced vision and strategy,” added Clack.

InterVISTAS, an internationally recognized travel and consulting firm based in Vancouver has been engaged to work with the City and RTO4 on the DestinationNEXT initiative.

David Peacock, CEO of RTO4, said he successfully campaigned for InterVISTAS to recommend the City of Guelph to the DMAI for this pilot project “based on its tourism assets, festival and events reputation, historic downtown, and sport tourism capacity, as well as its progressive approach to redefining the role of tourism within the greater city strategy.”

The Township of Centre Wellington has also been selected by DMAI. “These two destinations represent distinctly different tourism environments—one urban with a high level of infrastructure, commerce and services, and one rural with a focus in transient or leisure tourism,” said Peacock. Guelph and the Centre Wellington are the only two communities in Canada participating in DestinationNEXT.

RTO4, a member of DMAI, has committed up to $170,000 over the next two years to execute the DestinationNEXT process. That process will see Guelph create a strategic tourism plan and fund the implementation of that plan. For its part, the City of Guelph will supply staff resources over the course of the project to facilitate public consultation.

In addition, a 20-person steering committee, representing a spectrum of stakeholders including business, government, public, and education, will champion the project. The committee is responsible for activating a community-embraced tourism vision and strategy for Guelph.

Clack said she expects this work will result in a “tourism vision that is embraced by the community and sets the course for tourism to become a significant economic driver. The City of Guelph is thrilled to have been chosen for this project.”

Peacock added, “These engagements are the first of their kind for DestinationNEXT in the world and constitute an in-market development and tests of the DestinationNEXT process that will be shared with the 600 plus members of the DMAI.”

Interim results from the Guelph project will be presented by InterVISTAS to the general membership at the DMAI annual convention in Texas this July.

About RT04

RTO4 is one of 13 regional tourism offices in Ontario. Established by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, RTO4 services the region encompassing Perth, Huron, Waterloo and Wellington.

RTO4 provides leadership and support to the area’s tourism economy. In 2014, the RTO4 played a coordinating role in developing sport tourism in the region by establishing a Regional Sport Tourism Office.

For more information

Ella Pauls
Manager of Cultural Affairs and Tourism
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2589
ella.pauls@guelph.ca

David Peacock
CEO
Regional Tourism Organization Four Inc.
519-271-7000
peacock@rto4.ca