Claire Lepine and Val Hinsperger were two of the tourism operators at the launch of the Bonnechere Valley Tourism Strategy last Wednesday night. They were picking up the questionaries the township has for all tourism operators. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The launch of Bonnechere Valley’s Tourism Strategy is the beginning of a three-year plan to create a hosting economy for the community.

This follows up on a presentation earlier this year by Richard Innes of Brain Trust to grow tourism in the township with a three-year strategy to “establish, enhance and emerge” as a hosting economy.

“We want to introduce you to our Tourism Strategy and find out your ideas on how we can support, promote and develop tourism experiences by levering our uniqueness through the product themes of heritage, culture, arts, geology and the Bonnechere River,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy said in her welcoming address at the gathering held at Rio Tap and Grill on Wednesday evening.

“We are looking for information on your challenges, visitors, day trip and longer stay ideas so we can assist the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association and Ontario Highlands Tourism Association, Destinations Ontario and Destination Canada take your product and services to market,” she said. 

Community Development Coordinator Dana Barkley said the study was funded through FEDDEV Ontario’s Tourism Relive Fund. She said the first step was research and there was also a community launch project, as well as consultation. This resulted in the three-year tourism strategy. 

“Richard (Innes) identified that from a planning context we need to have a destination alignment,” she said. “Focus on the community and a connection to visitors.”

She gave the example of things reminding visitors of their childhood, like the smell of Chelsey Buns cooking at the Freshmart in the village. 

“The goal is to attract high value guests, one willing to pay higher rates for personal experiences. We also want to create legendary experiences.”

There are many wonderful things happening in the community already, she said. Working with existing experiences, there is the ability to expand, she said. 

The plan is to have an establish phase in 2023-2024, followed by an enhance phase in 2024-2025 and the emerge phase in 2025-2026. 

“The tourism sector is very important to the economic viability of Bonnechere Valley and throughout Renfrew County,” she said. “We encourage all local stakeholders to come and celebrate tourism, as well as learn more about destination development in our community.”

Renfrew County Warden Peter Emon said it is good to see the launch of the tourism strategy and pointed out enhancements in one community benefit all the others. 

“Tourism and visitors know no municipal boundaries,” he said. 

The warden said there are many unique opportunities in the community which can be enhanced. 

“You have a great series of experiences for people,” he said.

Chris Hinsperger of Bonnechere Caves said the community has much to offer, noting he has been involved in the tourism industry for 51 years. 

“We are not here to go from famine to feast because a lot of us feel we are eating pretty darn well, but we could eat better,” he said. 

A tourist is someone who comes from over 40 kilometres away, he said, so it could include many people in Renfrew County. He encouraged tourism operators to continue to develop experiences and build on what already exists. 

“A community is like your home,” he added. “If you are proud of your home, you are more likely to invite people inside.”

Questionnaires and copies of the presentation by Brain Trust were available for the participants. Tourism operators can also fill in the questionnaire at the township office.

By Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 03, 2023 at 10:11

This item reprinted with permission from   The Eganville Leader   Eganville, Ontario
Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated