Headwaters Tourism closed but tourism promotion carries on

ERIN – After 25 years of work on behalf of tourism businesses and municipal partners in Dufferin County, Caledon and Erin, Headwaters Tourism ceased operations on Dec. 31.

Headwaters Tourism had been recognized with multiple provincial and national awards for tourism marketing development and innovation, with the support of businesses, stakeholders and residents.

“Headwaters Tourism served the community very well for 25 years,” said board chair Bill Gillam.

“The tourism landscape of the area has changed drastically over the years and it is time for a different approach.”

In recent years, municipalities have developed active economic development departments to promote their own local attractions.

In 2019, Caledon gave six months’ notice that it had concerns about continuing its participation in Headwaters Tourism, meaning the partnership would not automatically renew for four years at the end of the year.

On Sept. 12, Dufferin County council decided to not renew its Headwaters participation, and to instead fund a tourism and cultural services strategy in its 2020 budget, working with local municipalities such as Orangeville and Shelburne.

Erin had been providing less than 10 per cent of the Headwaters Tourism funding, about $18,000 annually, while Dufferin was contributing about $90,000 and Caledon about $93,000.

That $18,000 has been redirected to Erin’s economic development budget to support creation of a new tourism strategy.

Central Counties Tourism (CCT) will continue to market and service the region.

It is a larger agency that delivers provincial tourism funding to an area extending from Caledon to Durham Region.

“The shuttering of Headwaters Tourism is disappointing; however tourism businesses can rest assured that they still have solid support from Central Counties Tourism,” the organization stated in a news release.

Erin is geographically in a different tourism region, based in Kitchener, but can benefit from its established relationship with CCT.

Erin has traditionally been considered more part of the GTA tourism market that was targeted by Headwaters Tourism.

“Central Counties will continue to work closely with the economic development and tourism staff in each of the municipalities to align and leverage our resources,” said Nanci Malek, board chair of CCT.

The organization already has a consumer website with dedicated headwaters content: www.yorkdurhamheadwaters.ca.

“Our collective goal is to help tourism businesses achieve the success they want,” said Malek.

“For the past 10 years, Central Counties Tourism has been working with stakeholders, municipalities and Headwaters Tourism to help grow tourism visitation and revenues in the region.”