New Tourism Master Plan sees tourism as an economic driver of and for Barrie

The City’s new Tourism Master Plan was approved in principle by general committee, goes to city council for ratification


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The City’s new Tourism Master Plan identifies the sector as vital to the economic health of Barrie and the growth of the city as a preferred destination for visitors, from near and far.
The plan was presented to general committee this week by Stephanie Schlichter, director of economic and creative development.
“The purpose of the plan is to create a long-term vision for the role of tourism as an economic driver and provide a series of short-term initiatives and actions that will move the city closer to achieving that vision,” she said, adding: “It’s important to note that (with) the Tourism Master Plan, the bulk of the work was created prior to the pandemic and it really is designed to be implemented in a post-pandemic climate.”
Staff asked for approval in principle for the master plan, and will report back next spring with prioritized recommendations on implementation and execution. General committee accepted the plan and council is expected to endorse the decision next week.
Schlichter said consultants reviewed “tourism-centric assets” in the city, gathering input from more than 80 stakeholders … “and considered existing plans and how they could play a role in Barrie’s tourism strategy. They also looked at what other successful destinations were doing.”
Tourism, she continued, encompasses more than Barrie’s waterfront.
“I think we often think of the waterfront as our sole source of tourism … but tourism encompasses so much more and touches on so many parts of our local economy, from arts and culture, open park space, to shopping experiences, and all of the supporting resources around it. It is really important that the tourism master plan looked at all of this from a broader visitor economy context.”
Components of the master plan include:
• Integrating the tourism sector, focusing on its economic development, and function (talent attraction/retention, investment attraction, economic sector diversification, and growth of creative and knowledge-based sectors)
• Investing in Barrie as a tourism product, as well as in the people who support that product 
• Developing and aligning the Barrie brand
The master plan also links the roles of the City and Tourism Barrie in developing the city as a destination location. For instance, the City’s efforts to drive overall tourism strategy, linking partners, setting overall direction for Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), is connected to Tourism Barrie’s role in being the city’s overall tourism marketing agency.
The plan also contains ten priority recommendations, and 30 in total, including: 
• Adopting tourism as a priority economic sector for Barrie: Tourism is an economic driver with Barrie possessing the majority of accommodations supporting the tourism area
• Establish a tourism position within the City to work jointly with Tourism Barrie: Integrate the strategic tourism lens across internal functions including arts & culture development, special events, active transportation, etc.
• Incorporating a tourism point of view when considering new development, way-finding, parking and downtown revitalization: Unique downtown offerings (shopping & dining) to draw people to the downtown, clear directional signage and parking
“Not only does (tourism) serve to increase revenue in the city … it also builds on our strategic position in the city as a lifestyle destination that will attract the skilled talent we will need to support our businesses, the new residents we will need to fulfill our growth projections, the development of new businesses that will drive our employment and economic growth,” said Schlichter.

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