May 16, 2007

New tourism training to enhance visitor experiences


Program builds on York Region's Character Community philosophy


NEWMARKET York Region Tourism will develop a customer service program to provide small to medium-size tourism businesses with tools they need to train their employees to deliver superior customer service and hospitality.


"First-class hospitality contributes to the overall appeal and image of York Region as a tourist destination," said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  "This program will provide tools to assist tourism related businesses and organizations to enhance the travel experience for visitors so they are motivated to return to our Region."


The tourism industry in York Region represents more than $209 million in spending on the part of 3 million visitors to the Region, according to most recent data from 2004.  Tourism helps to generate more than 2,600 jobs in York Region across a variety of economic sectors, including accommodations, restaurants, grocery stores, transportation services, attractions, events and retail.


"The McGuinty government is pleased to have invested $20,000 in this project to further develop tourism in York Region," said Minister of Tourism Jim Bradley.  "Our government recognizes the importance of tourism and its positive impact on jobs and prosperity."


Partially funded through the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, this initiative will help to meet a recurrent request for more customer service training to assist small to medium-size tourism operators that may not have the resources to develop and provide appropriate training for their staff.  The request is described in one of the recommendations of the Premier-Ranked Tourism Destination Project that was conducted across York Region last year.


This new initiative will create a tourism training module that features a local twist.  Customer service standards will be modelled on the philosophy and values of the Character Community initiative.


"The Character Community program is a natural fit with the tourism industry because it helps to assure that respect and high customer service standards are passed along the entire system to visitors," said Town of Markham Regional Councillor Tony Wong, who is also a member of the York Region Tourism Advisory Group and the Character Foundation of York Region.  "The new tourism training program will create practical tools and resources to help tourism operators and their employees create positive experiences for visitors and fulfill visitors' expectations for quality."


A focus group of tourism operators will be held on May 17th to explore the possible delivery mechanisms, tools and resources that small to medium-size businesses require to train their employees.  York Region Tourism will make the resulting product available to businesses of all sizes in the tourism industry.  In addition, the York Region Character Community initiative will incorporate the product into its programs for businesses that participate in the Character in Business program.


The Character in Business program focuses on creating a workplace environment that raises employee moral, recognizes outstanding achievement, increases loyalty and builds a strong team through incorporation of the Character attributes and values.  These attributes are Optimism, Initiative, Perseverance, Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Integrity, Compassion, Courage, Inclusiveness and Fairness.  Currently, more than 100 York Region businesses are actively involved.

The Character Community initiative began in York Region in 2001.  In 2002, all nine municipalities in York Region passed resolutions to support the Character Community initiative.


In June 2006, the Ontario legislature passed a resolution declaring the Province of Ontario as a "Province of Character."  The Province encourages everyone in Ontario to foster a climate that promotes, supports and celebrates excellence in character in its schools, businesses, homes and community-based organizations and thereby strengthen Ontario's families and communities.


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For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit


Media Contact:         Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region

                                 Phone: (905) 830-4444 Ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675

                                 Cell Phone: (905) 251-6413  Email:

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