‘Selling’ Kawartha Lakes

By Lindsay Advocate

How do we ‘sell’ our city to others? How do we persuade people who do not live here to visit, stay a while and spend more money than before?

That was up for discussion at a recent city council meeting as two different consultants advised council on how Kawartha Lakes should approach tourism marketing over the next five years.

The consultants from KWL Advisory and Mellor-Murray Consulting were especially focused on the so-called shoulder or off-peak seasons of spring, fall and winter. Their conclusion was that Kawartha Lakes had to set itself up to be a place of “natural experiences,” offering experiential tourism where people get to “touch, taste, and feel” what the city has to offer.

This has been on the mind of city officials for a while now. For instance, in the fall of 2018 the Kawartha Lakes Arts & Heritage Trail did a trial run experience of just such an experiential idea.

Over the course of a weekend participants were introduced to the art of building dry stone fences. Participants worked on restoring a section of the roughly 150-year-old Laidlaw stone fence that lines a stretch of Balsam Lake Drive. This included accommodation at the Days Inn in Lindsay in the evening before participants returned to work the next day. That’s not the kind of experience most people have had and even a small municipality can pull something like this off, with enough creative ingenuity.

It’s the bundling together of activities to get people to stay longer that the consultants say is important. We can’t compete with Peterborough’s venues in terms of holding large-scale concerts, but we can certainly innovate on smaller and more intimate levels, especially given how close we are to the centre of the universe, Toronto, and the rest of the eight-million-strong GTA dwellers.

The five-year tourism strategy was adopted by council. Now, in the shadow of the worst pandemic we have known in modern times, our small businesses will be counting on the success of this strategy. Council, tourism-focused operators and entrepreneurs must come together and bring this new tourism plan to life.

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