Dufferin County has been investing in developing a tourism strategy and used the International Plowing Match (IPM) and Rural Expo in September to promote what they have to offer.
During the IPM, the county set up a tourism tent where they asked visitors to fill out a three-minute tourism survey in order to get some free local food. The gathered data was shared at the Nov. 23 community development and tourism committee meeting.
Economic development manager Yaw Ennin oversaw the tourism tent and said a number of the visitors who submitted feedback identified as first-time visitors and drove hours to attend.
“In total, we received 1,124 responses to the tourism survey, which far surpassed our internal targets,” Ennin said. “There were a number of great insights that we gained from that tourism survey.”
According to Ennin, about 60,000 people attended the IPM in Bowling Green. The surveys showed the average age of those who filed out the form was around 60 years old. About 80 per cent lived outside of the region and 60 per cent did not stay in Dufferin County.
Orangeville was the leading destination among those who said they had visited the county before.
“Most visitors who stayed in the county during the events were in the RV park,” Ennin said. “Fifty-three per cent of the respondents engaged in retail activities, with 26 per cent of them reporting that they spent over $120 inside and outside of the IPM.”
An appealing part of hosting this event was the potential economic spike it could bring the surrounding area. Amaranth Deputy Mayor Gail Little wondered if areas noticed an increase of economic activity during the week, but that information is not available at this time.
“A lot of them stayed at the RV park, and they were just engaged in the events and did not do a lot of shopping,” Ennin said. “But from our surveys and just having interactions with the people that attended the events, we know that a sizable portion of them either visited places outside of the events or plan to visit places outside of the events.”
A whopping 95 per cent of people said they has a good or awesome time while visiting Dufferin County.
“Eighty-three per cent of those respondents stated that they were likely to visit other parts of the county for leisure, with hiking being the top activity that they wanted to engage in,” Ennin said.
One of the major components of the tourism tent was educating people on what there is to do in Dufferin County. This relied on not only the tourism tent giving people information, but also having staff and councillors involved throughout the event.
“Staff deserves a tremendous amount of gratitude for the amount of work that went in to pulling this event off,” Warden Wade Mills said. “There was an awful lot of work that went in the background that nobody saw, so I think at the very least those of us around this table and around county council need to recognize that.”
Rebecca Weston, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner