Decades of tourism have led to a united approach for southern Georgian Bay

0

In the 1970s, the formerly named Georgian Triangle Tourist Association was formed and still exists under a different name and updated terms of reference today.

Tourism has been a part of the local economy for nearly 100 years, inspiring municipalities and area business owners to work together to encourage repeat visitors.

As early as the 1940s tourists were showing interest in Collingwood and the surrounding townships, and in the 1970s the area’s first tourist association was formed and became a pioneering example of cross-border collaboration.

Brought together by visitors, towns in the area including Collingwood, The Blue Mountains, Meaford, Wasaga Beach and Clearview formed what is now South Georgian Bay Tourism.

“We live in the four-season outdoor recreation capital of Ontario,” said Melissa Twist, regional tourism manager at South Georgian Bay Tourism (SGBT).

Formerly known as the Georgian Triangle Tourist Association (GTTA) and Visit South Georgian Bay, the organization was rebranded in 2017 as a destination education organization with a mission to welcome tourists to the area while contributing to the economic prosperity of the five municipalities it serves. .

“It’s always been about collaboration and bringing these communities together,” Twist said. “It will always be number one.”

As Josef Jozo Weider worked tirelessly on the mountain to pursue his dream of building a world-class ski resort (now Blue Mountain Resort), Georgian Bay brought a different type of tourist to the area, and summer cabins sprung up. started appearing along the shoreline throughout the 1930s and 40s.

For many years the side launch of a new ship at Collingwood Dockyards has also drawn a crowd, sometimes busloads come from out of town to watch the ceremony and the spectacular launches.

Between the rise of Blue Mountain Resort and the closing of the Collingwood shipyards, people began to look to South Georgian Bay as a destination – and more and more tourists were being drawn to the area each year.

“The natural area – the attraction of the bay and the mountain – was meant to attract tourists,” said George Weider, son of the late Josef (Jozo) Weider, who founded Blue Mountain Resort.

In the 1970s, a committee of community leaders and business owners saw the need for an information center in Collingwood to help filter mountain people through the area and hired a local woman, Sheila Metras, to direct it.

Metras, who was in her early twenties at the time, was completing her master’s degree in social work at York University. She had no interest in working in tourism at the time and was only interviewed as a practice – until she was offered the job later that evening.

She was shocked, but agreed, and less than two months into her new role, she noticed a gap in the local tourism industry and the way the various municipalities handled their marketing. Metras thought it would be beneficial to unite to market the whole region.

She pitched the idea to nearby towns, and after some persuasion, the Blue Mountains, Clearview, Collingwood, Meaford and Wasaga Beach were all on board – and the GTTA was born.

“Everyone could see the benefits of marketing together, because no community alone could afford the marketing needed to attract an international audience,” she said. “Each wanted to be his own, but as a whole.

The association’s role was to help the five chambers of commerce and other businesses market themselves, and they began to do this by organizing community-wide fundraising events. No matter what it was or where it stood, members of the five municipalities worked together to make it happen.

“We’ve had a lot of success,” Metras said. “People were calling me from across the country to ask me how I managed to get five municipalities, five communities to work together.

Over the years, the association has become member-based and annual dues have funded much of its activities. At its height, there were over 500 members in all municipalities.

“It was groundbreaking,” Metras said. It was also a huge economic engine for the five municipalities. Each city had its own unique attraction, but with a much bigger mission in mind, they were stronger together.

In 2006, after 28 years of service, Metras officially resigned from his post.

For about a decade, the GTTA passed through different hands and went through a number of different names.

Now, the association’s role has become less about attracting tourists to the area and more about improving the visitor experience once they are here. SGBT’s goal is to inspire visitors to discover all the unique places, activities and experiences that the entire region has to offer.

“The main factor that has and will continue to set us apart is our desire to bring our municipal partners together and encourage continued collaboration among the five municipalities,” said Twist.

“Visitors cross borders without even knowing it, so it makes sense for us to present ourselves as a region,” she said. “We are stronger together.”

Share.

Comments are closed.