The County of Haliburton’s tourism department is asking residents for their opinion on the Highlands visitor economy. 

Tourism manager Tracie Bertrand said, “research shows that people want to visit a place for the very same reason people want to live in a place” and “great destinations are using a community-based approach to responsible tourism development.” 

The first annual resident sentiment survey (RSS) comes on the heels of the five-year destination management plan (DMP), adopted by County council in 2002-21. 

The plan is a framework to help optimize the economy year-round, provide greater benefits for all residents across the County and manage the destination for future generations to enjoy, Bertrand said. 

The public might remember the town halls held between May 2019 and December 2020, which helped to formulate the plan. The three strategic priorities that emerged from the plan were strengthening community collaboration, diversifying destination development, and enhancing the destination brand. 

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Since then, the County has brought on board director of economic development, Scott Ovell, and Bertrand. “In 2022, staff began to execute on the DMP,” Bertrand said. She noted she has had an opportunity to meet and speak to many tourism stakeholders, has provided visitor experience and destination training to welcome centres and was involved in the first annual tourism and business summit in collaboration with HaliTAC at Sir Sam’s Ski/Ride. She added the tourism website continues to be updated and innovated for an “exceptional” visitor experience, and there’s now an industry page for stakeholders to find what they need in one place. 

Bertrand said the next logical step was to reach out to residents of the Haliburton Highlands. “The goal is to collect resident opinions on the visitor economy to inform decisionmaking around sustainable and responsible development of the tourism sector and managing Haliburton Highlands as a destination,” she said. 

The tourism manager added the key objectives are: engaging a breadth and diversity of residents; gauging residents’ attitudes and opinions on the visitor economy; gathering insight on desired actions related to the visitor economy in the future; and benchmarking and tracking resident sentiment about the visitor economy over time. 

The survey is available on Wade In Haliburton, on social media, or go to surveymonkey.com/r/COHResidentSentimentSurvey. Paper copies can be found at the township office in Minden (705-286-1333) and local libraries. The survey closes Sunday, Dec. 18. 

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