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Sep. 22, 2020 | Tuesday
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Letter: Town should listen to third party on tourism issues
Letter.

Dear editor:

Why must the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and council direct the development of a tourism strategy with a third party? Simply for the benefit of the constituents you represent, here are the reasons why:

1. The Chamber of Commerce knows a lot about tourism and how it wants to market it. Its staff are experienced in marketing plans and tactics.
2. The chamber is an industry-run group that will consult many stakeholders and then write a report that meets the needs of its own members.
3. Tourism, unlike other industries in town, does not own all of its own assets. Tourism profits off of public assets such as the view, a picturesque historic town, parks, churches, public events etc. that do not all belong to the tourism industry. The tourism industry is not obligated to pay the upkeep of the public goods it lives off. 
4. The town and council does not know as much about tourism as the chamber knows and is at a disadvantage when it comes to good governance.
5. Town and council have an obligation to direct the development of the tourism strategy with a third party because:

  • The town and council spend public money supporting the activities of tourism and they have a fiduciary responsibility to spend that money wisely and to know and understand how it will be used.
  • Because tourism benefits from town assets it does not own, the town and council have an important role in how they will be used and funded. Therefore town and council must have a tourism strategy for the use and upkeep of the public assets. 
  • Toursim is both a positive and negative influence on the residents and other property owners in town, e.g. noise, overcrowding, traffic, upkeep of gardens, additional cleaning, roads, parking lots and public events.  The town and council must have a strategy to address that.
  • If the chamber is going to be the designated marketing agency then there must be a strategy for governance, transparency and accountability.

6. The tourism industry can benefit from a well-thought out tourism strategy that provides long-term funding for tourism marketing and speeds up tourism infrastructure development. 

Those are the reasons why the town and council need to direct the development of a tourism strategy with a third party. It would be wrong for the town and council to be wilfully ignorant. Council members are obligated to look after the interest of their constituents. 

Bruce Gitelman

Residents for Sustainable Tourism

NOTL

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