I take it back

I have said it in two “State of the City” addresses – doing business differently is politically risky.  I take it back.

Talking about doing business differently is politically risky.

Doing business differently means many things at City Hall.  One of the things it means is to strengthen our ability to work with the private, public and community-benefit sectors to achieve even better results for the community.

The current ideological debate around tourism – slash it versus keep it as a municipal service – is costly and lacks creativity.  Can we stop for a moment and imagine that there might actually be more options than this?

A lot of people’s livelihoods in our community rely on tourism.  Sure, we aren’t Niagara Falls.  However, if you are wondering whether there is a tourism sector in Guelph, go and ask a dozen of the 100 partners of Tourism Guelph.

The City has been the steward of tourism management for many years and we have an obligation to move forward with care so we do no harm to an important pillar of our local economy and the people who are part of it.

There is a management philosophy that says the most pragmatic and innovative ideas come from the shop floor – the front-line.

So those in the front-line of tourism – the restaurants, hotels, sport clubs, festival and event organizers, destination managers, artists, retailers, farmers and  local and  regional tourism managers – what say you?

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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8 Comments on “I take it back”

  1. Marshal McLernon Says:

    It’s risky to do business differently, and certainly hazardous to talk about it — but many of the good citizens of this city think it’s great that you’re doing so! Cities who make a shift in thinking get to be innovative and imaginative instead of being mired in “how it used to be”. Guelph has great potential to be at the forefront and leading edge. Keep it up, Mayor Karen!

  2. Ewen Says:

    The Guelph Farmer’s Market definitely benefits from tourism in the summer months. It gives a boost to the vendors who might otherwise be affected by the students returning home at the end of the school year. If the Market, which is only open one day a week, benefits from tourism, I can only assume that other businesses do as well. Continuing to promote and grow local tourism in new and innovative ways is vital to the local economy and reputation of this great city.

  3. Eric Repaci Says:

    I was not happy with the loss of the tourist train in Guelph. I understand the difficulty in the previous owners situation of being able to secure financing for the infrastructure to be able to turn a part time venture into a full time venture. The amount needed to do this was not by any means considered a burden. In my opinion much more effort could have been initiated to make this happen by the city which is also the landlord of the GJR. The city has the right to operate the GJR as primary and only shareholders of this company. The muncipal laws in no way interfere with this principle and to be told otherwise is merely inexperience and avoidance by city administration to handle this situation. The GJR is similiar to a crown corporation with the exception that is owned by a municipality.
    Also, the unique fact that the City of Guelph is the first and only city to own a class 1 Federal charter railway would give it an edge in many ways. The history that it has and the revenue it has collected over the years for Guelph makes it an excellent choice to have a tourist railway operate on it. The Guelph Historical Railway Association has also lost a direct benifit from the loss of the train by losing shared revenue from the operation through the charity it provided. I have visited many tourist train operations in North America and I have seen the the direct impact on tourisim that it has. If you are serious about tourism then even though the train is not in operation anymore it would be an excellent step forward to try and revive the idea even if it is a non profit venture. I do not want to see more tax dollars into consultants for tourism spent with the end result of sitting on shelves collecting more dust.

    Eric Repaci

  4. Andrea Says:

    Change is a scary thing for anyone involved but usually turns out to be positive in the end. How the change is implemented and managed is the key factor in ensuring a smooth transition and successful outcome. The councils decision to halt all tourism marketing initiatives until a new management process is in place seems short sighted and counterproductive. Guelph stands to lose not only tourism revenue, but important partnerships & future opportunities during this transitional period. From a strictly business perspective, it is illogical to shut down, or suspend operations , during restructuring. Would you close your business because you wanted to find a new manager? Or would you operate as usual while looking for a new manager in order to make the transition as seamless as possible for your clients, employees & stakeholders?
    The issue is not about change, it is about change without a plan.

  5. KFarbridge Says:

    Thank your for comments. It is helpful because there has been a lot of misunderstanding regarding this matter. Our Chief Administrative Officer has confirmed with Council that tourism operations have not been halted. You are quite right – the need for tourism management and the ability to respond to tourism opportunities continues as we consider the appropriate governance model.

  6. Culture and Tourism Says:

    We are continuing to deliver core tourism services during this interim time period without any disruption – we have not suspended operations, and the tourism office continues to function on a day to day basis. The Council direction was to only pause new initiatives that would obligate the corporation for future resources and funding.

  7. Maria Pezzano Says:

    I echo Andrea’s comments above. Thank you Andrea. Culture and Tourism -core tourism services are not enough. “Only pausing new initiatives” shouldn’t be downplayed or accepted. It is a pretty serious request. It is asking to hold back when the municipalities around us are moving forward, therefore sabotaging a vibrant, exciting city. This department should be relocated and become a part of Economic Development. Because that is what it is really. The successful development of Tourism goes hand in hand with Economic Development. We are building condominiums left right and centre. How do you expect to fill them if you can’t engage and entice a potential consumer to come visit and hopefully purchase.

  8. Michelle Says:

    Marketing seems to be the thing we need to help keep fueling this great city of ours. Why would we pass over the reigns to a private company? I understand it costs money to run but perhaps it needs to run in a more creative and inclusive way. That can only happen if it remains part of the municipality. Tourism encompasses so many factors; transportation, development, planning, recreation, heritage, education and last but not least Culture!
    I cannot see how outsourcing our tourism would benefit anyone other than some of the more wealthy contributors.
    I believe that we live in a truely unique city. Wherever I travel now, I say I am from Guelph, and NOT a place 1 hour north/west of Toronto, like I used to say. People seem to really know Guelph now and not only because of the University but because of our incredible arts and culture! I am amazed at how often I hear that now
    That’s what is putting us on the map. I can’t imagine that an independent company would reflect these sectors of our community because they do not have the resources. Artists do not have the money to contribute to tourism and yet they are the ones that are truely selling the city. So the city certainly makes money from the tourists that they draw.
    It is the soul of the city that is at stake. I believe that outsourcing tourism is a HUGE mistake.
    The city should be looking at how it can totally exploit and celebrate the incredible talents that are already making Guelph an internationally known city. Don’t look outward but inward!!

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