January 23, 2009

The Regional Municipality of York to develop new tourism strategy to bolster local economy and employment

Long-term approach to enhance York Region's tourism infrastructure
NEWMARKET With more than 60 golf courses and equally inspiring number of museums and art galleries, with more than 125 performing arts festivals and a cultural heritage as diverse as the four seasons, The Regional Municipality of York and our nine municipalities are well positioned for a significant growth in tourism. 
In order to capitalize this opportunity, the Region is developing a Long Term Tourism Destination Development Strategy for a 10-year period commencing from 2009.
"This strategy will provide a sustainable structure for tourism development in the Region and shape the environment in which tourism as business will be conducted in the future," said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  "Tourism is an important part of York Region's economy and plays a key role in supporting growth and prosperity."
To finalize the tourism strategy and provide a concrete implementation plan, York Region will spend the next four months consulting with local municipalities, tourism industry associations, Regional tourism businesses and academic institutions.
"This is a great opportunity to expand and invest in York Region's tourism infrastructure and position the Region as a must-see, must-do tourist destination," said Town of Newmarket Regional Councillor John Taylor, Vice Chair of York Region's Planning and Economic Development Committee.  "In a period of economic uncertainty, tourism development can generate thousands of job opportunities and effectively sustain small businesses".
The Regional Municipality of York identified five key directions that will shape the Long Term Tourism Destination Development Strategy:
 Marketing York Region as a leading destination for getaways through brand positioning, strategic private and provincial government partnerships
 Increase tourism attractions and expand infrastructure and accommodation facilities by increasing awareness about the Region's natural heritage, identifying new funding programs, capital sources and investment opportunities for investors
 Establish a new organization to support marketing, investment and expansion initiatives and set-up an internal steering committee of regional and municipal departments dedicated to tourism growth
 Provide more funding to tourism projects and develop a 10-year budget forecast for the Regional Tourism Program. Re-negotiate the current marketing partnership model with Tourism Toronto and develop a robust revenue generation plan
 Upgrade the quality of tourist attractions and develop new products and experiences by identifying high profile local, national and international festivals and events, and develop strategies to bid for sports tournaments
To further support the tourism strategy, York Region has engaged tourism businesses across the Region to develop an innovative Tourism Customer Service Program.  This training model supports the local business community to learn new skills for increasing the customer traffic to their businesses and to the Region. 
York Region public and private school boards, local municipalities, the character foundation, chambers of commerce, the board of trade and other institutes will be encouraged to partner in delivering the program.
This will also result in more employment opportunities and greater economic benefits throughout all nine local municipalities.
To receive a copy of the draft Long Term Tourism Destination Development Strategy, please visit www.york.ca and the Planning and Development Services webpage or contact Brenda McGowan at (905) 830-4444, Ext.1553 / email: Brenda.McGowan@york.ca
For more information on the Region's tourism initiatives, please visit www.yorktourism.com
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Media Contact:         Rohit Jajoo, Corporate Communications, York Region
                              Phone: 905 830-4444 ext. 1207 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
                              Email: Rohit.Jajoo@york.ca
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