Submitted by Barb Shaw
In fiscal year 2009/2010 Building Bancroft was able to access approximately $270,000 in grant money through the Federal Government’s Community Adjustment Fund. This is a reasonable start in what could be multi-year funding to help support a significant economic generator for the region.
Building Bancroft’s current application to the Provincial Government’s Rural Economic Development Program, if approved, will provide approximately $370,000 to continue this tourism initiative.
New tourism funding will enable Building Bancroft and its tourism partners to continue the initiatives begun last year and initiate new activities including, print and electronic marketing, consumer shows, a second annual regional tourism conference, assistance to local tourism organizations, hosting workshops aimed at providing tourism businesses with tools to help to market their product, operate their businesses and undertaking further tourism research.
Should the project come to an end the region’s tourism industry will be left to fend for itself, being faced with limited financial support and no immediate opportunities to replace the funding that had been provided.
Over the past several months there has been much public discussion on the future of the Building Bancroft Project and its value to the Bancroft region including some criticism of the tourism initiatives the Project has undertaken.
As Building Bancroft was designed, in part, to assist in stimulating economic development in the region what better sector to focus on than one that has existed in the area for years, has significant growth potential and to a certain degree already has some recognition in other areas of the Province?
Since October 2009 Building Bancroft has undertaken a number of initiatives designed to increase awareness of the region as a travel destination and to generate additional visitor and economic growth for the region.
The Project has identified regional tourism product, partnered with area organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, Think Snow and the local arts communities. We have attended travel shows, created sector specific brochures, conducted destination awareness advertising, hosted a highly successful tourism conference and conducted tourism specific research.
We have partnered with Hastings County on the development of the Premier Ranked Destination initiative and have established relationships with staff from the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership and the Ministry of Tourism to obtain support for the tourism activities Building Bancroft has undertaken.
As few of the area tourism businesses are operating at anywhere near capacity it would seem that additional marketing and destination awareness campaigns would be welcome.
The Bancroft and District Chamber of Commerce does an excellent job working with other partners in Comfort County and in producing the annual destination guide. However, the Chamber is restricted in what it can do by limited tourism funding.
By way of contrast many neighbouring regional tourism organizations receive substantial funding through their county or municipality. This funding support ranges from between $250,000 to over $400,000 annually and provides those organizations with the ability to undertake ongoing marketing and promotional opportunities.
The Bancroft region needs a committed source of tourism funding if it wants to compete with other areas of the province and Building Bancroft has the ability to deliver this funding if the project continues. Without the Building Bancroft Project the region’s tourism operators will be left to fend for themselves, being faced with limited financial support and no immediate opportunities to replace the funding that had been provided.