Need for tourism improvements at all levels
As a 15-year operator of a multi award winning tourism business in Clearview, I would like to provide some input on what is missing from Clearview Tourism Plan. (Re: “Something missing from the Tourist Plan” The Creemore Echo, Feb. 17, page 4)
We have a feature room which is in a fully restored 1940 Ontario Northland Railway Caboose that we purchased and had towed to our scenic property. It was a total tear down to the metal frame restoration which took a year and a half before we opened the Creemore Caboose at Clearview Station (note the use of Creemore and Clearview in our name.)
At that time, I was part of a group of business owners that worked with Clearview’s previous tourism manager to promote Clearview. We came up with a number of drafts of a Clearview Tourism map. I informed the group of the Magnetic Hill that no one really knew much about. A number of our guests have tried it over the years and enjoyed the sensation.
Years ago I proposed that the Creemore Business Improvement Area (BIA) allow associate members who were not in the downtown core to join, to provide extra hands in setting up or removal of decorations etc. at various functions and to provide an extra source of income from dues. It was approved, however late last year the BIA asked council to remove associate membership from its constitution.
The new Clearview Chamber of Commerce based in Stayner has also expanded its outreach and had a number of Creemore businesses join as they are outside of the Creemore BIA.
In 2021, Premier Doug Ford brought in the Staycation Tax Credit which was designed to bring more tourism into local municipalities for longer periods to boost local economies during the Covid downturn. Unfortunately, we did not have one local restaurant or merchant ask to take advantage of that program by linking up with our unique Bed and Breakfast to pass along to the BIA for referral.
We also have a dining problem in Clearview. Many restaurants are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. When guests ask for dining referrals on those days, we unfortunately send our guests to Collingwood or Wasaga Beach. In a number of cases the guest would say, “Oh, well, I may as well book a room in Collingwood.” One guest in our guest book wrote, “I didn’t realize the town (being Creemore) closed down on Mondays and Tuesdays during tourist season.”
The downtown merchants seem to forget that a customer in their store will spend perhaps 10-15 minutes at most before leaving to go on to the next shop. When guests book into a Bed and Breakfast, they are staying for 16-20 hours where we have the opportunity to promote local businesses and things to do and see in Clearview.
We still find brochures are of great value to our marketing as was outlined by Mr. Hughes in the Tourism Plan that Clearview needs to do some updating. The esteemed tourism marketing guru Mr. Roger Brooks also agrees brochures are required.
Before Covid, my wife and I would do six to eight model railway shows to promote our unique BnB and Clearview Township. These would include shows in Barrie, Kitchener, Midland, Ancaster, Lindsay and Bolton. On average they supply up to 2,000 plus contacts for us to promote not just ourselves but Clearview and Creemore. The recent Barrie Train show had 2,031 paid attendees but there was no print material from the BIA or Chamber of Commerce. People commonly will ask, “where is Creemore?” or “I have never heard of Clearview.” Yet the BIA “is powered by a group of “very dedicated business owners” that is true, they are dedicated to their own businesses but not to tourism for Clearview.
The Clearview Tourism office in Stayner is very hard to find, and is closed Fridays which is the busiest day of the week for tourists to be travelling and in need of information. How does that make sense?
So in summary, there is a dramatic need for all levels to improve but more so from the Clearview Administration Centre, and its staff. Tourism begins from the top.