As more people discover local natural wonders, Grey County sends out the call to respect them

·2 min read

As local tourism booms at natural attractions, Grey County extends a cautious welcome with its “Rediscover Responsibly” campaign.

While a previous campaign welcoming visitors to “Rediscover Grey” last summer, this year Grey County is focusing on “safety awareness” and “respectful behaviour” it its Rediscover Responsibly campaign.

What does that look like? Here are six quick tips:

-Be prepared.

-Do not trespass.

-Respect nature, agriculture, & wildlife.

-Protect our environment.

-Photography Safety: “Don't do it for the ‘gram.”

- Observe COVID-19 protocols.

Last summer, record numbers explored north of the GTA into the Grey County area. In some senses, a dream come true for local tourism operators and other businesses – at least those who could be open.

But the natural beauty spots lost some of their beauty as local residents and the Grey tourism department personnel were left picking up garbage. Closed washrooms led to other messes.

And numerous incidents of people and their pets straying off paths and onto private property threatened the good work of the Bruce Trail association in its landowner relationships.

Letters to the editor and posts on social media from residents on unsafe parking on boths sides of narrow roads or those whose driveways were blocked in Eugenia were one thing. Having two people fall off at Eugenia Falls within a week despite signs that the area was closed was another.

Many sites await the visitor and there has been years of work marketing the area through things like its waterfalls tour, its promotion of cycling and of local breweries, cideries and wineries. The area contains the Beaver Valley, and many small lakes, rivers and creeks as well as a harbour in Owen Sound.

So the welcome mat is still out in Grey County, but local tourist spots and business locations also are being given materials to use to spread the “Rediscover Responsibly” message.

Respectful and safe behaviour is at the forefront of this campaign, with reminders about reduced capacities, wait times, full parking lots, or crowded spaces being a part of the many messages broadcasted locally this season.

The County and some municipalities have hired tourism ambassadors to greet people, direct them to other sites and encourage the aim of respecting the limits of the natural world.

Along with this effort, Grey County has an Outdoor Activity Map to show what spots are open.

Businesses can download the Rediscover Responsibly campaign poster on the Grey County Tourism website visitgrey.ca, as well as the Trail Etiquette poster promoting best practices while using trails and natural spaces in our area.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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