County takes to Trip Advisor 

The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Nov. 13 meeting of the Haliburton County tourism committee.

Tourism director Amanda Virtanen presented the department’s 2020 tourism marketing to committee members.

“We are looking at making quite an investment with Trip Advisor” Virtanen said of the popular travel website explaining that would include the creation of a destination page for the county on the site.

“We definitely need to be there” Virtanen said. “It would also really help our Google presence.”

Along with continuing traditional marketing practices such as advertising on a variety of platforms the plan includes a continued emphasis on digital storytelling by local stakeholders and Virtanen said the county is looking for tourism operators to create short digital videos of the experiences they offer.

“These videos do not need to be onerous” she said adding they could be simple videos shot with a smartphone.

The county will then distribute this content on various online platforms. “The focus of this operation would be on our adventure partners.”

Virtanen said the department will offer one-on-one consultation and training for any operators who wish.

More participants of this year’s Hike Haliburton Festival stayed in paid accommodations than they did the year before. Virtanen reported to committee members that 13 per cent of hikers stayed at paid accommodations versus eight per cent who stayed at paid accommodations in 2018. There were 2200 in this fall’s festival although not all registered hikers always show up.

The event which features dozens of guided hikes throughout the county on a weekend in late September had 179 volunteers help make it happen this year. Virtanen said only one per cent of participants came from outside the province a figure the tourism department is looking to grow.

Virtanen told the committee members tourism information clerk Eric Casper has developed the idea of a new snowmobile loop using existing trails connecting the village of Haliburton and Minden which will be called the Forest and Rail (FAR) Loop. It has been supported by the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association and as Virtanen pointed out is a relatively short easy loop close to food gas and towns so suitable for those who may be new to snowmobiling. It is featured in the 2020 trail guide. Casper has also recreated a snowmobiling section on the county’s tourism website which highlights key stops staging areas accommodation  etc.

The Hike Haliburton Festival – Winter Edition pilot is set to take place Feb. 7 and 8. A winterized version of the Hike Haliburton Festival being held for the first time it will feature guided snowshoe hikes along with other wintery activities. It will offer up to 15 hikes and it’s planned to have online registration available before the holiday season.