Township’s visitors’ guide won top provincial award for promotion

The Fergus Elora Bed & Breakfast Association (FEBBA) took home top pro­vincial honors in the Tourism category here on Feb. 5, as winners of the Best Visitor Guide in Ontario, as chosen by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO).

Recipes to Experience Elora & Fergus, Ontario is a concise booklet featuring the accommodations, res­taur­ants, attractions, arts, and various festivals and events throughout Centre Wellington. It is the re­sult of a cooperative vision to create an attractive, user-friendly visitor guide that has helped put this region on the tourism map.

With the support of tourism stakeholders, FEBBA volun­teers and advertisers in the com­munity, Recipes to Exper­i­ence is touted as a treasure map of what to do, see, and where to stay that has been well received beyond the community.

Entries to the EDCO com­pe­tition came from 46 com­mu­nities across Ontario, and in­clud­ed a prestigious group of nominees. Recipes to Experi­ence topped the other finalists from Brampton and Sudbury. The award was presented at a gala dinner at the Marriott Hotel, hosted by Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, David Onley.

“What makes the award especially sweet is that the pro­ject came together so quickly, with overwhelming support from everyone involved,” said FEBBA president Ro Cober. “We have been working hard in the same direction for two years now, and the results are starting to pay off.”

Part of that success came in the form of a grant through the Ontario Market Investment Fund in January. FEBBA, as a tourism stakeholder has part­ner­ed with other organizations under the stewardship of Elora Fergus Tourism to successfully compete for a grant of $98,500, the result of a successful funds-matching proposal submitted last November.

That funding will be used to build and promote the Elora Fergus area as a culinary tour­ism destination, an initiative that includes creating linkages between local food growers and producers, and the restau­rants, events and festivals that can promote local food to the masses, within and beyond Centre Wellington.

The award-winning Recipes to Experience Elora & Fergus Visitor Guide will be the main vehicle to promote the market­ing initiative in its inaugural year.

Economic Development Of­fi­cer Dave Rushton has an­nounced that this year’s print run will be doubled to 70,000 booklets. The distribution strat­egy includes inserting almost half the guides into The Globe and Mail prior to the Victoria Day holiday in May.

“The 416 and 905 area codes are key target markets for us,” said Rushton. And Globe subscribers are already pre-qualified to a large extent in terms of the demographic we want to reach.”

The 2009 campaign will be supported by a website, ad­vertising and direct mail. “The OMIF funding is a great op­por­tunity to leverage what we already have,” said Rushton. “We’re going to build new product, and put the word out about all the great things there are to taste and experience in Elora and Fergus.”

The booklet is the third successful entry of the Fergus Elora Bed & Breakfast as an EDCO finalist.

The group previously received awards of merit in 2006 and 2008.