Adventure Haliburton will have to wait a while to find out if County council will partner with it to expand its use of Driftscape – an Ontario-made exploration app.
The group, that represents tourism operators and accommodation providers, launched the app – which functions as a digital, interactive roadmap for adventures – last July 29.
Its vice-president, Randy Pielsticker, came to the July 20 County council meeting. The County gave it $5,000 last year to help with initial costs. While the app promotes private businesses, Adventure Haliburton promoted 15 municipal points of interest.
Pielsticker said they’d had a “great working relationship” with Driftscape the past 1.5 years. He added the platform had grown to nearly 60,000 subscribers by June 2022, from 30,000 in February 2021.
The app is available for iOS and Android devices and can be accessed on internet browsers.
For now, Pielsticker said they had created a basic digital footprint, but wanted to take it to the next level. For example, he said they would like to add tours of downtown Haliburton and Minden, and quests, such as digital scavenger hunts. They’d also like to better promote events and provide navigational assistance for events such as Hike Haliburton and the Studio Tour.
His ask was another $5,000 from the County, for each of 2022-2024, to pay for the annual subscription. Adventure Haliburton would match that to maintain the development of the site and market and promote it.
“Since we’ve taken on the project, it really has grown, and much further beyond the initial launch that we had anticipated,” Pielsticker said. “The challenge is Adventure Haliburton is a not-for-profit group and we are run by volunteers. We do have the budget to continue to develop this software program, this marketing platform to try to really take full advantage of it and that’s where we’re looking for your help.”
He said the plan is to share the data with the County to, “help inform the decision-making process of County tourism, help analyze trends, target markets we need to offer extra support to, and key performance indicators.”
Warden Liz Danielsen said, “it does sound like the strategy that you developed for 2021 was successful from the numbers that you’ve given us, and your strategy going forward has got some pretty exciting ideas that will probably work well for us all.”
However, councillors said they wanted to hear from economic development and tourism staff before committing to anything. Director of tourism, Tracie Bertrand, did not attend the meeting and there was no staff report accompanying Pielsticker’s delegation.
Council was also concerned since they have already set the County budget for 2022 and are soon going to be going into lame duck mode. That means they don’t want to made decisions during an election period.
Coun. Pat Kennedy noted the County had been successful in getting a $50,000 grant from Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization, including $25,000 for data collection and $25,000 for marketing activities so that might cover the Adventure Haliburton ask.
Council deferred a decision until after a staff report at a future meeting.