Kawarthas Northumberland looking for partners to enhance and promote regional tourism

Don't wait to apply for funding under the RTO8 Partnership Allocation Program

One of a series of photographs taken at Ridgeview Cottages, on the shores of Rice Lake, which were procured through the Partnership Allocation Program in a photography project with the Rice Lake Tourist Association (photo: RTO8)
One of a series of photographs taken at Ridgeview Cottages, on the shores of Rice Lake, which were procured through the Partnership Allocation Program in a photography project with the Rice Lake Tourist Association (photo: RTO8)

Three houseboat rental businesses, normally in competition with each other, form a creative alliance to brand Kawartha Lakes as “Ontario’s Houseboat Capital”. The resulting marketing campaign targets and entices guests from Ontario and border U.S. states to experience the beauty of the Kawartha Lakes and enjoy an adventure with family and friends.

The Rice Lake Tourist Association creates a brochure and promotional fish magnets to promote angling in Northumberland and Peterborough County, and distributes them at industry trade shows in Ontario and New York and Michigan. Partner resorts in the Rice Lake area experience an increase in bookings, most notably from U.S. travellers.

A new fall festival in Port Hope brings together chefs, restaurateurs, and farmers from across Northumberland County and Peterborough City and County. Featuring entertainment from Juno Award winning bands, the inaugural Cultivate – A Festival of Food & Drink event draws almost 1,300 attendees and is nominated for the Festivals & Events Ontario Awards “Best New Festival”.

Happy Days Houseboats and R&R Houseboat Rentals in Bobcaygeon and Egan Houseboats in Omemee joined forces and used Partnership Allocation funding to create the "Kawartha Lakes Houseboat Capital of Ontario" marketing campaign (photo: Kawartha Lakes Houseboat Capital of Ontario)
Happy Days Houseboats and R&R Houseboat Rentals in Bobcaygeon and Egan Houseboats in Omemee joined forces and used Partnership Allocation funding to create the “Kawartha Lakes Houseboat Capital of Ontario” marketing campaign (photo: Kawartha Lakes Houseboat Capital of Ontario)

All of these successful initiatives have one thing in common: they partnered with Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8) and received matching funding from the Partnership Allocation Program.

“The program provides an opportunity to partner with a larger regional organization that’s willing to split the cost,” explains Marie Lummiss, Operations Coordinator for RTO8.

In you’re not familiar with RTO8, it’s the independent non-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing regional tourism in the area branded as Kawarthas Northumberland, which encompasses the City of Kawartha Lakes, the City and County of Peterborough, and the County of Northumberland.

One way RTO8 does this is through its annual Partnership Allocation Program, which encourages regional partnerships and strategic coordination by providing project support, financial administration, and matching funds for approved initiatives. As the deadline for 2016-17 funding under the program is fast approaching, RTO8 is encouraging interested organizations to apply now.

The Cultivate festival in Port Hope was launched in 2015 using Partnership Allocation funding and drew 1,300 attendees in its inaugural year. At this year's festival, a family from Toronto enjoys a locally produced pie while listening to entertainment on the bandshell stage at Memorial Park. (Photo: Cultivate)
The Cultivate festival in Port Hope was launched in 2015 using Partnership Allocation funding and drew 1,300 attendees in its inaugural year. At this year’s festival, a family from Toronto enjoys a locally produced pie while listening to entertainment on the bandshell stage at Memorial Park. (Photo: Cultivate)

The year’s Partnership Allocation Program has a total of $214,000 available for tourism initiatives. The funding is provided through the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS).

“Whether it’s bringing in an experiential tourism consultant, marketing through the GTA, updating your website, photography or videography, the project will benefit not only your tourism business but the region as a whole,” Lummiss says.

Unlike previous years, this year’s Partnership Allocation Program is supporting initiatives in six specific areas: experience development/enhancement, external marketing, translation services, wayfinding signage, memberships, and photography/videography. Further details about each of these are provided at the end of this story.

“We listened to our partners to see what they thought is important and what we should be supporting,” Lummiss says.

Using Partnership Allocation funding, the Rice Lake Tourist Association distributed promotional material at industry trade shows in Ontario (like the Quinte Sportman Boat and RV Show, pictured here) and border U.S. states to attract visitors to the region. (Photo: RTO8)
Using Partnership Allocation funding, the Rice Lake Tourist Association distributed promotional material at industry trade shows in Ontario (like the Quinte Sportman Boat and RV Show, pictured here) and border U.S. states to attract visitors to the region. (Photo: RTO8)

The deadline for applying for funding under the program is January 1, 2017 — or until all available funding has been allocated. So far this year, 21 partnerships have been approved for funding under the program.

“There’s no limit to the number of applicants,” Lummiss says. “Applications are continuously reviewed on a first come, first served basis.”

Lummiss encourages partners who are interested in funding under the program to contact her first before applying.

“I’m always willing to chat with people about their ideas and work with them through the application,” she says, “so that they have the greatest chance of success once they submit their final application for review and approval.”

As available funds are limited and as the program’s deadline is fast approaching, Lummiss suggests those who want to apply contact her now at 705-874-8505 or at admin@rto8.com to express their interest.

Here are some questions to help determine your eligibility for the Partnership Allocation Program (infographic: RTO8)
Here are some questions to help determine your eligibility for the Partnership Allocation Program (infographic: RTO8)

It’s important to keep in mind that the Partnership Allocation Program is not a grant program; partners must provide matching funds.

Before applying for the program, Lummiss recommends interested partners ask themselves a series of questions, including whether they are able commit to their share of the cost, whether their project will increase tourism visitation to the region (including overnight stays), whether their project is cross-regional, and whether their proposed expenses are eligible (for example, salaries and capital expenses are not eligible for funding).

It’s also important to note that all initiatives receiving funds under the program must be completed by March 1, 2017.

The complete program guidelines, along with the application form, are available for download at rto8.com/partnership/allocation/.

To build off of the success of its inaugural event supported by Partnership Allocation funding, Cultivate extended its brand and offered Holiday Hampers made up of locally curated goods and brews from providers in Northumberland County and Peterborough County. Cultivate is offering the Holiday Hampers again in 2016.  (Photo: Cultivate)
To build off of the success of its inaugural event supported by Partnership Allocation funding, Cultivate extended its brand and offered Holiday Hampers made up of locally curated goods and brews from providers in Northumberland County and Peterborough County. Cultivate is offering the Holiday Hampers again in 2016. (Photo: Cultivate)

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the Partnership Allocation Program, here are the six areas for which funding are available:

Experience Development/Enhancement

The building of unique and authentic experiences that will increase visitation, length of stay and visitor spending. Preference will be given to projects that have two or more partners. Projects must align with RTO8 focuses which include fishing and angling, culinary, performing and visual arts, the Trent-Severn Waterway, the Trans Canada Trail, Cycling, the Butter Tart Tour, craft breweries, Indigenous experiences, Canada’s 150th Anniversary, and the Samuel de Champlain Route.

External Marketing

The implementation of marketing campaigns directed at target markets within a two-hour drive radius and in upstate New York. Partnership Allocation funding will increase the ability to access digital and print advertising that may otherwise be cost prohibitive.

Translation Services

Measures that meet the needs of international visitors and enhance the accessibility of tourism-related online and print materials. The focus this year is on French, Mandarin and German.

Wayfinding Signage

Enhancing wayfinding signage to strengthen the tourist experience and encourage people to see more, do more and stay longer. Partnership Allocation will work with municipalities, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and partners to develop tourism-related directional signage.

Memberships

The building of critical mass in tourism-driven markets through memberships with Attractions Ontario, Feast ON, and Resorts of Ontario.

Photography/Videography

Enhancing available imagery to promote Kawarthas Northumberland and tourism partners to the benefit of digital advertising and marketing campaigns. Partnership Allocation will allow partners with an interest in tourism-related promotion to access high-quality photo and video production at a reduced cost.

For more details about the Partnership Allocation program and to apply, visit rto8.com/partnership/allocation/.

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Paul Rellinger
Paul Rellinger a.k.a Relly is an award-winning journalist and longtime former newspaper editor still searching for the perfect lead. When he's not putting pen to paper, Paul is on a sincere but woefully futile quest to own every postage stamp ever issued. A rabid reader of history, Paul claims to know who killed JFK but can't say out of fear for the safety of his oh so supportive wife Mary, his three wonderful kids and his three spirited grandchildren. Paul counts among his passions Peterborough's rich live music scene, the Toronto Maple Leafs, slopitch and retrieving golf balls from the woods. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @rellywrites.

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