| Jan 07, 2010

The Land o' Lakes Tourist Association (LOLTA) is concerned about a potential $20,000 shortfall in their budget after 2011, based on a work plan from the Lennox and Addington Economic Development department

As part of a three-year work plan, the department is proposing that L&A County “assess the Land O'Lakes Tourist Association partnership” as one of its strategies for promoting tourism. This proposal will be discussed at a committee meeting in Napanee tonight (January 7) along with other facets of the three-year work plan.

This raised alarm bells for LOLTA general manager Ken Hook. “LOLTA is funded through member fees, municipal support, and provincial grants,” Hook said at a meeting of Addington Highlands Council on Monday, January 4, “and the $20,000 from Lennox and Addington represents about 12.5% of our budget, so we are definitely concerned.”

Hook wonders how the county would be able to duplicate the service provided by LOLTA, which covers Frontenac County and the municipality of Tweed as well as L&A County. “The majority of businesses in Addington Highlands are members of LOLTA; we produce 70,000 maps of the region each year, and participate in major trade shows, including the one in Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania, and our website is about to expand to include 12 languages because tourism is now global. The $20,000 contribution represents only about 5% of what L&A spends on economic development each year, and I don't see how they will do as much for tourism by keeping the money,” Hook said.

In a telephone interview on January 5, Stephen Paul, the Manager of Economic Development for Lennox and Addington, indicated that Ken Hook is worried about something that isn't really being planned. “We assess our relationship with all of our partners but that does not mean we intend to withdraw funding,” he said.

“I think the entire county needs to look at how we should improve our marketing. County Council has shown a real interest in improving tourism, which is a really good thing. We have a viable partnership with LOLTA, and last year we committed to three-year funding for the first time. That's a pretty good indication of support,” he added.

Tourism is an important industry in Lennox and Addington. According to Ken Hook, 18% of the jobs in the county are directly or indirectly related to tourism.

Hook pointed out as well that the municipal funding in Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Counties to LOLTA is a bargain compared to the investments other Eastern Ontario counties make in tourism.

Municipalities served by LOLTA spend an average of 52 cents per permanent resident each year in contributions to LOLTA, as compared to tourism spending of $2.69 per resident in Haliburton, $2.47 in Cornwall and the Seaway Valley, and $2.18 in the Kawartha Lakes region.

In Frontenac County, individual townships make contributions to LOLTA. In 2009, North Frontenac doled out $4,000, Central Frontenac $6,000, and South Frontenac $8,000.

Frontenac Islands and the Municipality of Tweed did not make contributions last year, a situation Ken Hook hopes to rectify in 2010.

The discussion about tourism marketing in Lennox and Addington takes place against the backdrop of the announcement of 13 new provincial tourism regions.

Addington Highlands, North and Central Frontenac are slated to be part of region 11, along with Lanark, Renfrew and the northern part of Hastings County, while the rest of Lennox and Addington and Frontenac County will be part of region 9, along with Kingston, Brockville, Belleville and other communities in the vicinity of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

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