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Guelph Tourism

Tribune file photo

Council told staff to report back on any potential cost savings from the tourism changes during the city’s 2014 budget process.

City hall looks to ditch tourism

City hall has scaled back its tourism operation, and it is trying to get out of the business.
City officials plan to meet with the city’s “tourism partners” during February for initial consultation on the changes the city wants to make, says a new staff report.
In behind-closed-doors discussions during preparation of the 2013 city budget late last year, council passed a motion seeking to get out of the tourism business, says the report.
That motion directed city staff to issue a Request For Proposals for a community partner to take over the management of the tourism services currently provided by the city. Staff were also directed to report back to council, no later than this June, on the results of the RFP and on a transition plan. As well, council told staff to report back on any potential cost savings from the tourism changes during the city’s 2014 budget process. Council said to leave the position of Senior Business Development Specialist vacant and told staff not to pursue any new tourism marketing initiatives until the transition plan is finished.
An initial consultation session with the city’s tourism partners was set for Jan. 17. But it was postponed to February “due to low response rate,” says the report, which goes to a Feb. 12 meeting of council’s community and social services committee.
Staff are recommending that consultation sessions be opened up to the public, “so that other tourism stakeholders and community organizations will have an opportunity to provide their feedback into the process, and help to develop the framework for the provision” of tourism services in Guelph, the report says.
During the current interim period, staff are “maintaining core tourism services, including website and social media support, production and distribution of the Visitor Guide, and front counter services,” it says.
“Because of the reduced workload associated with the reduction of services in this interim period, staff have been able to leave the position of Senior Business Development Specialist vacant as directed,” it says.
The city is losing some revenue because it isn’t selling Guelph Tourism Services memberships this year, given the current situation, the report says.
However, it says this loss “will be more than offset” during 2013 by the staff vacancy and by the reduction in tourism marketing initiatives.
Guelph Tourism Services was part of the city’s economic development department not long ago, but it was shifted into the city’s community and social services department.
It now reports to Colleen Clack, the city’s general manager of culture and tourism, who in turn reports to the department’s executive director, Colleen Bell.
Meanwhile, since January 2012 the city’s economic development operation has been part of an expanded department headed by the city’s new chief financial officer, Albert Horsman, who also has the title of executive director of finance and enterprise services.
This expanded finance department includes financial services, downtown renewal and the city’s community energy initiative, as well as other functions.

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