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County takes over tourism from Chamber

The municipality will be looking to build partnerships with local businesses as it takes over the “tourism” duties from the Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism and Commerce.

“By no longer providing visitor services, the Chamber will be able to give its business support services renewed focus,” said Emily Cowan, its new executive director. The Chamber will focus on broadening its membership and improving benefits and advocacy. It is also seeking a new location. The 116 Main St.,Picton building is listed for sale at $429,000.

Though the County is taking over distribution of tourism materials and the maintenance of information kiosks, the Chamber plans to continue to produce its map that highlights members. Chamber membership packages currently range from $150 to $2,000.

“Many businesses already provide support to visitors beyond their required services and the County is considering ways to leverage this through training and development,” said Neil Carbone, director of the Community Development Department. “This has been the County’s busiest tourist season ever. By expanding the role the municipality plays in providing visitor services, we’re hoping to really build on that momentum.”

The Community Development Department, in 2014, took over the operations, destination tourism marketing and branding of the not-for-profit “Taste the County” organization founded in 1999, following provincial funding formula changes that favoured regional organizations. The County’s funding also changed from a lump sum to project and task basis. Taste was known for its signature events such as Countylicious, Maple in the County, and the Taste and Arts Trails.

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  1. Steve Staniek says:

    I know very little about local commerce, but my perspective on, and experience with government warns me that this takeover from private industry (CofC) is yet another opportunity to grow the local government rather than business, by adding a tourism layer to the newly imposed layer of toxic heritage government.
    Government creep has already trashed the rights and privileges of business and property owners on Picton’s Main Street, and after mismanaging that relationship it expects Main Street business to tolerate, and even support another takeover by Shire Hall so that council can mismanage that too? That sorry relationship needs to be healed first, before it can advance.
    Shire Hall has much to answer for, but let’s start with the basics on Main Street like public washrooms. My tour of Main Street a few months ago revealed that one of the biggest grievances from business owners has been the dearth of public washrooms on Main Street, not only for local traffic but for the waves of tourists that fill Main Street every summer. Shire Hall, through its lack of consideration for genuine public needs, has forced visitors on Main Street to wander down alleys to relieve themselves shamefully in public view.
    It’s only recently that Shire Hall has deemed to provide a public facility after years of business complaints.
    Those of us who have recognized the pattern of misinformation and deceit that supports the so called Heritage Conservation District, are now concerned that the same pattern of misinformation will be used to promote our County, where we all live.
    The broken trust must be mended and restored before Shire Hall is given any more power over us by controlling the tourism message that describes who we are, to the rest of Canada, and the world.
    Step one is to restore ethical governance in Shire Hall by repealing the oppressive HCD bylaw.

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    Chris Keen – really!?? I have heard this idea of “indirect” benefits for years about how tourism helps us. All I am doing now is asking for a little more “direct’ proof. Obviously you can’t come up with any either – but I will be interested in hearing from others. But sorry, we have heard only too often about how tax breaks create jobs and how we should all be happy to contribute to the tax savings of others – this tourism gig seems to be in the same vein. What we need here in the County are full time jobs in tax contributing businesses, not subsidized part time jobs in seasonal businesses. All I am saying is, that if the County is going to get into the tourist trade, then it has to be a profitable business – for us the taxpayers!

  3. Snowman says:

    There will be a line item savings to the 2017 The County Budget( a direct payment to the Chamber for “Visitor services”) to offset the cost. Don’t know that number but it’s in the budget, and not a secret. I would guess it’s north of $50K.
    It makes sense to me. Sounds like the Chamber wants to concentrate on other things so the County has to pick up the ball. What other choice is there?

  4. Gary says:

    I guess the unanswered question is whether those indirect benefits to the municipality are enough to offset the cost of infrastructure to support it. Or are the local taxpayers paying to provide a holiday destination?

  5. Chris Keen says:

    My understanding of this from news reports several weeks ago was that the Chamber could no longer afford to provide “tourism duties” for what the County was paying.

    @ Dennis Fox – Really!!??
    “While I support tourism, I have not been convinced that they contribute to improving the municipal treasury and assist in helping the local taxpayers in such areas as road improvements, cost of water, or defraying taxes at all.”

    You don’t think that the municipal taxes paid by businesses catering to tourists or those paid by their employees contribute to the municipality? Of course they do – indirectly. The same goes for HST.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    I have to admit there may be a logic to what the County is doing here, but right now I don’t get it. It appears that The Chamber has done a good job with providing tourists with information and promoting tourism as well. If the article is correct about this being the best tourist year ever, then why change anything? While I support tourism, I have not been convinced that they contribute to improving the municipal treasury and assist in helping the local taxpayers in such areas as road improvements, cost of water, or defraying taxes at all. So unless Mr. Carbone and Council have an idea of getting money from the tourists, then what’s the point of asking taxpayers to take on more cost by this move to take over something that was well run by the Chamber? Is this another move to create another municipal empire?

  7. Dave says:

    What an improvement—it now cost $2.00 for a County map that used to be free

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