By Chad Ingram
This week is Amanda Virtanen’s final one as tourism director for the County of Haliburton, as she resigns her post for a position as a senior vice president and partner of a public relations and branding agency.
Virtanen, who started with the county in the spring of 2013 and modernized the marketing activities of its tourism department, will work her final day on June 14.
“I’ve truly enjoyed working with the many tourism business owners and partners in the Haliburton Highlands over the past eight years. As the community emerges from the pandemic, there’s an exciting future ahead with much opportunity for tourism in our region,” Virtanen told the Times. “I’m looking forward to the next chapter for me, and truly grateful that I’ll be able to continue living and working in the Highlands.”
Virtanen created the #MyHaliburtonHighlands brand and the county’s tourism strategy, dramatically expanded its digital and social media presence, and oversaw a host of projects and events. As county chief administrative officer Mike Rutter put it, she re-invented the way the county does its tourism business.
“The county is very sad to see Amanda leave, but we are grateful for all she accomplished in her time with us,” Rutter said in an email. “With the support of council and the tourism stakeholders, she was able to lead us through a complete reinvention of how the county showcased the great things we have to offer. We know that many people ‘found’ the county as a result of her marketing efforts, and we often hear stories of how those short visits evolved into decisions to relocate on a permanent basis. I know we share her pride in those accomplishments, and we continue to benefit from the solid foundation that has been developed.”
As for what happens next, Rutter said he and county councillors will be reviewing the position description before proceeding with a recruitment process.
“Whenever we have a vacancy, we take the opportunity to review the mandate of the position and have a conversation about the skill set we will be looking for in prospective candidates,” Rutter said. “Council and I are currently in that review process. There is no doubt, however, that Amanda’s replacement will have very big shoes to fill.”