BRACEBRIDGE - One of Muskoka’s publicly funded tourism and marketing agencies has not met for months.
The Muskoka Tourism Marketing Agency has cancelled its last three board meetings and hasn’t met since June, according to district Coun. Phil Harding.
He wonders how the agency managed to set priorities for 2013 without the benefit of board meetings, and we wonder the same thing.
Harding should know; he sits on the board. And the frustration he expressed about the agency at council makes us even more suspect that things aren’t quite right.
Michael Lawley, executive director for Muskoka Tourism Marketing Agency, says that 15 of the board’s members represent area hotels, resorts and attractions and those members are just too busy in the summer to meet.
It reminds us of the business maxim that says you have to work on your business not just in your business. You need to be able to see the forest for the trees.
This year taxpayers will cough up $300,000 for the not-for-profit membership association.
There are quarterly reports submitted to district and we aren’t for a minute suggesting that Lawley isn’t passionate and dedicated to promoting tourism in the region.
And we fully support his suggestion that a third-party review be undertaken of the agency. There are 47 organizations like Muskoka Tourism across Ontario, and a third-party review would look at best practices elsewhere and bring them to Muskoka.
Lawley says it’s just good common sense. We agree.
In determining if we’re getting the best bang for our buck in terms of the agency, it makes sense to get the opinion of an outside expert. But we would like to see a comprehensive review done of all the agencies and organizations that exist to promote Muskoka.
We have the Muskoka Tourism Marketing Agency, RTO 12, all the separate chambers in all our towns, all BIAs and the economic development officers in each town.
Everyone is competing for the same pot of money, and whether it’s municipal, provincial or federal funding, it all comes from the same pocket – ours.
We can’t help but think that looking at what everyone does would reveal both redundancies and efficiencies.
The idea of a comprehensive third party review came up at the district services review and as people like Harding get more frustrated with the status quo, we’re with him.
A lot of people we talk to have the same concerns; everyone agrees that we need to promote our district, but are our dollars being spent wisely?