Regional Tourism Organizations are independent, industry-led, not-for-profit organizations. They play an important role in supporting competitive and sustainable tourism regions. Each organization provides regional leadership and coordination and works with industry partners to grow tourism through activities like strategic planning, research, product development, training, investment attraction and marketing.
There are 13 Regional Tourism Organizations in the province – one for each tourism region. Find your tourism region.
In 2009, the Ontario government completed the Tourism Competitiveness Study. In its review of Ontario's tourism industry, the study found that:
As a result, the study recommended the creation of tourism regions led by one regional organization in each, to make Ontario’s tourism industry stronger and more competitive.
Regional Tourism Organizations provide regional leadership and support a more coordinated and collaborative approach that maximizes resources, encourages strategic planning and investment, and results in stronger marketing with better reach.
How were the boundaries of the 13 tourism regions and three northern sub-regions determined?
Regional boundaries were developed after extensive consultation and submissions from industry partners. More than 500 tourism partners from across the province helped inform the development of the regional boundaries through 13 public consultations, 17 planning sessions, and almost 200 written and online submissions.
The industry indicated that the regions need to be sustainable, capture unique product clusters and integrate existing brands and partnerships.
The ministry listened and also took into consideration other important factors, such as the tourist's perspective, travel patterns, common markets, natural landforms and existing infrastructure.
Destination marketing organizations focus on developing tourism at a sub-regional level, particularly through marketing. Regional tourism organizations are responsible for tourism marketing, development and management at a regional level. Sectoral organizations are provincial or national in scope and focus on opportunities to improve specific sectors of the tourism industry.
The ministry expects that Regional Tourism Organizations will work with all industry partners in their region to grow tourism. Regional Tourism Organizations may also work collaboratively across regions and with sector-based organizations on areas of mutual interest. Regions may vary, however, in how their Regional Tourism Organizations and existing Destination Marketing Organizations decide to work together. Destination Marketing Organizations and Regional Tourism Organizations may be able to develop long-term partnership opportunities.
It is up to each Regional Tourism Organization to determine its own board structure and membership.
It is up to each Regional Tourism Organization to determine if they are membership-based and if membership fees will be implemented. Regional Tourism Organizations are responsible for supporting tourism across the entire region.
Regional Tourism Organizations may pursue regional research for planning, coordination and performance measurement.
The ministry will complement this work with province-wide data broken down by region. The ministry is already supporting the Regional Tourism Organizations with data and statistics on visits to tourism regions including:
The Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation has also offered partnership opportunities to the Regional Tourism Organizations to conduct social media research, brand perception and awareness research and partnership satisfaction surveys to gain consumer insight.
All Regional Tourism Organizations have signed transfer payment agreements that hold them accountable to the Province for how funding is used and for growing tourism in the region. These agreements include the requirement to report to the Ministry regularly. The Ministry has the ability to take any steps it deems appropriate if a Regional Tourism Organization is unable fulfill its responsibilities. Regional Tourism Organizations are also responsible to their members for results.
The French Language Services Act guarantees an individual's right to receive services in French from Government of Ontario ministries and agencies in 25 designated areas. This legislation does not directly govern the work of independent organizations.
Francophone visitors are an important market for Ontario. That is why the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and Direction Ontario — Ontario's provincial Francophone tourism organization — are working with Regional Tourism Organizations to build their capacity to attract and serve Francophone visitors.
Many tourism partners are already putting an emphasis on serving Francophone visitors. The ministry encourages this work to continue.
How much funding is the province providing to the tourism regions?
The Ontario government is supporting the tourism regions with $40 million in annual funding. The Province is also providing $18.75 million in destination marketing fee transition funding from April to December 2012.
How will the funding for each region be used?
Tourism partners will use this funding to enhance destination marketing and management. This will help tourism in each region continue to grow and support local jobs and businesses.
Who decides how these funds are used?
The Regional Tourism Organization's board determines how to use the region's funding. These plans are guided through the terms of a transfer payment agreement with the ministry.
What happens in 2013-2014? How much funding will each region get then?
In 2013-2014, Ontario will continue support for the tourism regions with $40 million in annual funding.
The ministry continues to work with stakeholders on approaches for sustainable long-term funding.
How does the regional tourism approach affect municipal support for tourism?
The ministry encourages municipalities to continue supporting tourism as part of their communities' economic growth strategies.
It is important for municipalities to work with their Regional Tourism Organization to further local tourism growth and economic success.