Haliburton Highlands’ Barrie Martin was named the Tourism Champion of the Year at the Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence on Nov. 22. Martin attended the awards dinner in Ottawa which was hosted by the CBC’s Heather Hiscox left. Martin was chosen by a panel of judges for his involvement in many initiatives and dedication to Haliburton County. PHOTO SUBMITTED

Marketing plan includes website design video series

By Chad Ingram

Published Jan. 16 2018

The to-do list in the county’s 2018 marketing plan includes a redesign of its #MyHaliburtonHighlands website a video series featuring local personalities and more.

The plan was first presented to the county’s tourism committee in November and tourism director Amanda Virtanen presented it to members of the Haliburton Highlands Tourism Stakeholders’ Committee at a December meeting.

During a Jan. 10 tourism committee meeting member Sally Moore indicated that while it had been discussed informally the stakeholders’ group did not yet have any formal feedback on the plan.

“There were comments made but not to be the official message” Moore said.

She also said that since the draft marketing plan contained mostly visuals that some members who hadn’t heard Virtanen’s explanation were having a difficult time understanding it.

While the idea of deferring a recommendation to county council that the plan be approved was discussed “it is a bit late” said Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt who chairs the tourism committee.

Moffatt noted that would mean pushing approval of the plan back to February and that tourism stakeholders as well as any member of the public had already had opportunity to hear the explanation.

“Asking a group of people who haven’t experienced the explanation of the plan if they like it . . . I’m not sure people are going to have an opportunity to say anything that’s helpful” she said.

“I just can’t imagine that there would be anything so glaring that we’d have to change the marketing plan” said Dysart et al Deputy Mayor Andrea Roberts.

The plan includes an ad strategy that will see 50 per cent of advertising done through digital mediums 30 per cent through print and broadcast and 20 per cent through partnerships such as festivals concerts and showcases.

It includes a focus on “Haliburton originals” – locations businesses events and items that are unique to Haliburton County and that will be promoted to media through press releases and social media coverage. Think the “Haliburton dinner jacket” or

the Hawk Lake log chute or local brewers.

There are also plans for a digital magazine and an “Ask a Local” video series.

“It’s kind of evolving as those conversations continue” Virtanen said of the video series.

A request for proposals for a redesign of the county’s tourism website will go out although maintenance of that website will continue to be done in-house.

Also planned are a limited edition line of the county’s #MyHaliburtonHighlands Roots clothing collection and representation at Rendezvous a tourism event in Halifax with access to international markets.

The county also has an application in to the province’s Rural Economic Development (RED) program for continued promotion of culinary attractions including the creation of a “buy local” program improved integration of local storytelling into the county’s tourism initiatives and better way-finding signage throughout the community.