Friday, December 11, 2009

Recognizing the Regional Approach to Tourism

Thunder Bay plays a fundamental role in the regional tourism economy and I recognize the value of working with regional partners beyond our municipal boundaries to move the yard stick further.

I communicate and partner with literally hundreds of tourism partners and organizations and while meeting the individual requirements of each one presents challenges, I'm proud of the positive relationship we've built with virtually everyone.

As many know, I've been a Director with the North of Superior Tourism Association board over the past two years, elected by putting my name forward and voted by members. While I've been very proud of that role, I've started looking closely at the process by which I invest time and resources into partner organizations and discovered that I do not need to always be board member to influence decisions or build partnerships.

As many know, I've stepped down from the board this past week and my reason is very simply. Time. As the organization goes through a metamorphosis of late, its taken a lot of my time and that's time away from other projects, partners and yes, even my own family. With a work week that routinely spans 60-70 hours and sometimes carries on for 20-25 days in a row, I had an epiphany that influencing regional decisions doesn't require a board seat.

There's rumours circulating that Tourism Thunder Bay has pulled out of NOSTA. Nothing is, in fact, further from the truth. We still are, and will continue to be, a valuable member of the association and look at the association, its board and staff as important partners. In my departing remarks in my capacity as a Director yesterday, offered my continued leadership, advice, expertise and resources to the association to build successful marketing partnerhsips that deliver return on investment and benefit our many members in the city and region. Another rumour is that my seat is appointed municipally. I ran as an individual tourism professional and was duly elected by the membership. My decision to leave the board was also mine.

To work in silos, particularly at this time in tourism, is just wrong. To work effectively doesn't always require a seat on the board but simply a seat somewhere at the table. I represent a very diverse group of local tourism partners and its important that I treat each one equally and work with everyone for the betterment of the industry and to that , a neutral point of view is essential. That's not always possible while sitting formally on a board.

We have both challenging and exciting times ahead of us in tourism and I'm fiercely proud of the advancements Tourism Thunder Bay has made in recent years to raise the profile of the city as "one of Canada's Best Outdoor Cities." The rewards are in the emails and calls I get from Kenora to Wawa from regional partners interested in linking to our strategy in a bigger regional sense. The key is that it takes everyone working together with a common goal of advancing the industry. I certainly hope to see everyone on the same page moving into 2010 and I, as always, will be in at the table, board seat or not.

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