By Vivian Collings
The first-annual HaliTAC Tourism and Business Summit forges synergy and a sense of connection among local stakeholders.
The summit was created by the Haliburton Tourism Action Committee (HaliTAC) and made possible by the County of Haliburton Economic Development and Tourism, Ontario Highlands Tourism Organization, and Boshkung Brewing Company.
Twenty-four local businesses and organizations set up booths at the summit where more than 70 people attended, which exceeded the expectations of organizers, on Tuesday, May 17 at Sir Sam’s Ski and Ride in Eagle Lake.
Keynote presenter Trevor Benson, CEO of Bannikin Travel and Tourism, noted the importance of synergy.
“Synergy means working together. It’s taking lots of different pieces and bringing them together to create something bigger than yourselves, and in our case, cultivating a tourism product,” said Benson during his Power and Potential of Synergy in Tourism presentation.
The day also featured opening speeches, sessions hosted by the Workplace Development Board, and an interactive workshop highlighting how a diverse group of businesses in an area can create a collective value for visitors.
Emily Stonehouse, co-chair of HaliTAC, said that Haliburton County is sufficient in terms of individual tourism resources like accommodations and businesses but lacks collaboration.
“What we have been missing in recent history has been the synergy and cohesiveness to thrive as a whole community, but I think we are working towards a new chapter of connections and local support,” Stonehouse said.
The Tourism and Business Summit was created for local stakeholders to cultivate these connections in-person among each other as the county moves into the busiest months of the year for most businesses and organizations.
Tracie Bertrand, Haliburton County manager of tourism, said, “Today has been incredibly fantastic. It’s doing exactly what we wanted it to do, which is to bring people together, reconnect, and renew that passion and creativity that existed prior to COVID-19. The face-to-face interaction is powerful.”
The summit was altered from it’s original concept by co-chairs of HaliTAC, Stonehouse and Randy Pielsticker when they met with Bertrand. They were in agreement that the summit should align with the Haliburton County Destination Management Plan.
The Destination Management Plan was created by community stakeholders and approved by Haliburton County council, which focuses on a vision for the county to be “where residents and visitors celebrate the essence of Canada’s outdoor and creative spirit.”
“We created a dynamic and inspiring setting to move the Destination Management Plan forward and incorporate educational components to assist businesses in workforce and product development,” Bertrand said.
Stonehouse hopes that attendees of the summit walk away with both a sense of pride in their own business and a desire to collaborate with fellow stakeholders in the county going forward.
Jenn Wanless-Craig, owner of Artech Studios in Tory Hill, said that the summit helped solidify their vision to continue to collaborate with other businesses and organizations in the county.
“We left feeling rejuvenated and hopeful about this summer. We are excited to work with other organizations like Yours Outdoors to run some of our glassblowing workshops and to meet new customers,” she said.
Because of the summit’s success, Stonehouse hopes the event will be expanded on going forward.
“We hope that this event continues to grow, and potentially even turns into a multi-day event that expands beyond professional development. We think there are opportunities for further training, networking, and maybe even opening up the doors to the public so they can get a first-hand look at all the great things the Haliburton Highlands has to offer,” she said.