HUNTSVILLE - The Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce will be moving forward with a cultural tourism strategy for this year, according to the group’s executive director Kelly Haywood.
Kelly Haywood, the executive director of the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce, announces at the groups annual general meeting on Jan. 24 that the group is going ahead with plans to do a cultural tourism study.
The idea for a local-based cultural tourism strategy came from the chamber’s 2012 annual general meeting.
Since then, according to Haywood, the chamber has received $40,000 from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s tourism development fund to create a cultural tourism development plan.
She said the plan will be developed and translated into a marketing campaign that will target cultural tourists.
“This is an objective to bring everything together, much like our event and sport tourism strategies,” she told the membership at the chamber’s 2013 annual general meeting, held Jan. 24 at the Mark O’Meara Golf Club. “We will do the study to see how the (cultural tourism) strategy can be implemented.”
According to information from the chamber, there are four pillars to cultural tourism - historic sites; plays and concerts; museums and art galleries; and festivals and fairs. It is estimated that Canada’s cultural tourism industry is worth $8 billion in visitor spending and Canadians spend 65 per cent of this figure. It is also estimated that cultural tourism also creates 72,000 tourism industry jobs.
Thirty-seven per cent of cultural tourists are boomers, 24 per cent are 64 and older, 53 per cent have a university degree and 22 per cent have a household income of more than $100,000.
According to the chamber, Huntsville is already a popular cultural tourism destination with attractions such as the Algonquin Theatre, Huntsville Festival of the Arts, Muskoka Museum, Muskoka Pioneer Village, Portage Flyer Train, Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery, Film North Festival, Classic and Custom Car Show, the Canada Summit Centre – including public art exhibits, many commercial art and craft centers, boutique shopping, high-quality culinary experiences, and the gateway to Algonquin Provincial Park.
Leanne Fetterley, the chamber’s community event and marketing manager, said that a request for proposal to hire a consultant will be sent out soon.
She said the chamber’s plan is to have someone in place to begin work on the cultural tourism development plan at the end of the month.