Posted by Aaron Ledlie on Jul 31, 2017
Anna was pleased to introduce Brendan Matheson, the Experience Development Coordinator for Tourism Simcoe County as our guest speaker. Brendan’s job involves developing outdoor tourist experiences in our area; one of his most recent areas of focus is on cycling and the website Brendan discussed the beginnings of the cycling focus in our area, the reason our region is a very popular cycling destination, and the amazing tourism opportunity that is provided when cycling is focused on as a tourist experience. The focuses for this effort are on getting organized with local partners such as the health Unit, OPP, Ontario by bike, the local municipalities and townships, and local business. They then started up a pilot project that involved a cycling coordinator. Key tasks included mapping, signage, safety, and marketing. There are 3 maps of our area; Ontario Lake Country, Southern Georgian Bay, and Heart of Georgian Bay. The focus for the signage was directional and safety. Safety messages were also produced in video format sharing information such as the recent 1 meter passing law, tips on sharing the road, how motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians can better interact with each other, cycling formation, and specific tips a cyclist to increase their safety while on the road. They had also created several other marketing pieces such as a cycling checklist, a cycling friendly business listing for certified business (this is a free listing for business), and tourist packages which included suggested routes and accommodation options, and 15 bicycle repair stations which can now be found locally.
Brendan said that they have had some great success especially with their safety messages as the social network really helped with their exposure. They had also put out a survey for the now 60 certified business which helped track the business trends in relation to their cycling tourism efforts and the results were clear that there had been a marked increase in cycling tourism in our area. Bill thanked Brendan for his talk and made mention of our donation to Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign; he was then given an Inuksuk with 2 arms.