County pulls tourism funding

Cornwall and The Counties Tourism employees including Executive Director Linda Wilson, second from right, and President Linda Halladay, far right, listen to county council discuss severing funding to the agency Monday, May 16, 2016. The county has decided to do its own tourism marketing, starting in 2017. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

SD&G – As expected, the United Counties voted Monday morning to go it alone on tourism.

The county council voted to sever its $83,000 annual relationship with Cornwall and The Counties Tourism (CCT) at the end of the year.

Four staff of CCT, including Executive Director Linda Wilson and President Linda Halladay, were in the gallery for the discussion and vote.

As for the county tourism marketing plan, Coun. Evonne Delegarde questioned whether a report on tourism coming in the fall would be late considering marketing materials are already being put together for 2017 at that point.

“We want to – over the next four to six weeks – have those meetings and get that information as quickly as we can and try to work towards the summer…on how we’re going (to proceed),” CAO Tim Simpson answered.

Warden Jamie MacDonald said he met with Cornwall Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy Friday and had some “preliminary discussions” on the plan going forward.

MacDonald suggested the city wanted to be reassured that the county wouldn’t be working in a tourism vacuum and would still talk with Cornwall and The Counties Tourism.

The city pays $160,000 a year for tourism marketing from CCT.

Minutes after the vote, the tourism agency sent out a news release.

“We’re disappointed with the decision at the County Council table,” CCT President Linda Halliday said. “However, we have no plans of stopping what we do, which is develop and implement excellent marketing strategies and campaigns to attract more visitors.”

Executive Director Linda Wilson had indicated to city council on May 9, 2016 that they are already working on recapturing the loss of core funding.

“We are looking to find other partners too. We’re working at it and looking at all of our options,” she said.

According to CCT, the tourism industry was a $221 million business in SD&G in 2015.