As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the travel and tourism sector, municipalities within Niagara’s South Coast are working collectively to revive the local tourism industry.
Niagara’s South Coast Tourism Association (NSCTA) is the designated Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for southern Niagara and is comprised of four member municipalities: Fort Erie, Port Colborne, Wainfleet and Welland which collectively represent a total population of 107,681 residents, approximately a quarter of the Niagara Region population.
Niagara’s South Coast generates extensive tourism and economic opportunities for the local economy and contributes to the diversification of Niagara Region’s tourism product offerings. According to the 2019 Niagara Regional Tourism Profile, there are 490 tourism-based businesses in Niagara’s South Coast representing 4,274 jobs and $293 million in total tourism expenditures.
In a recent application to the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), NSCTA was successful in obtaining funding in the amount of $473,963 to lead a number of projects and initiatives that will support local economic recovery efforts. The funding is part of a $30-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund provided by FedDev Ontario to support DMOs.
The NSCTA have collaboratively developed a strategic work plan in alignment with TIAOs phased approach for rebuilding tourism:
- Hyper-Local – Shop, buy, eat and stay local
- Explore Ontario – Explore the region or the one next door
- The Ontario Bucket List
Among the strategies within NSCTA’s work plan are a number of marketing campaigns to drive traffic to local businesses within the partnering municipalities, promote Niagara’s South Coast and to work with local tourism stakeholders to enhance digital presence to support their recovery efforts.
“Travel and tourism are vital for economic development in South Niagara. COVID-19 has reinforced this along with the importance of shopping local,” said Mayor Bill Steele, City of Port Colborne. "I would like to thank the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario for this grant because these funds, paired with the creativity and resilience of Port Colborne's business community, will allow us to work strategically with Fort Erie, Wainfleet, and Welland to create innovative ways that promote and strengthen our local shops, restaurants, and businesses.”
“Niagara’s South Coast showcases a vibrant and diverse tourism sector embodied by rich history, natural features, a thriving culinary scene and eclectic shopping experiences,” said Mayor Wayne Redekop, Town of Fort Erie. “Fort Erie’s valued partnership with Niagara’s South Coast member municipalities will strengthen the collaborative effort to create meaningful, dedicated support for tourism operators and local businesses as they stride towards recovery and prosperity.”
Wainfleet Mayor Kevin Gibson said “The South Coast municipalities are a natural destination offering a rich and diverse experience from shopping and culinary pursuits to the peace and slower pace of country life. With visitors being such a key part of the landscape in our area, these funds, combined with collaboration with our partners in Fort Erie, Welland and Port Colborne, will certainly help to strengthen our business sector and guide our Township toward a strong and lasting recovery going forward.”
Welland Mayor Frank Campion said “Our South Niagara municipalities offer tourists a wide variety of cultural, active and leisure tourism opportunities. This funding enables Welland and our partner communities to work collaboratively to build, package and promote an exceptional visitor experience that crosses municipal boundaries. Welland looks forward to showcasing, among other things, its continuing development and enhancement of activities in, on and around our recreational waterway which will result in new and expanded local business opportunities.”