Halton Wants More Tourists to Cycle Around the Region
Cycling is quickly becoming a very popular activity, both as a pastime and as an economic means to get to work or run errands, especially in rapidly urbanizing communities.
But it is also a powerful driver for those visiting as tourists to a community, that feeling of being able to hop on a bike and just explore the place you're visiting on your own power is very enticing.
Those of you who have traveled to cities such as Copenhagen can understand that point.
To address that underlying potential, Halton Region recently unveiled a strategy to address the potential for cycling tourism in the region. The previous Liberal government also launched a cycling tourism plan for Ontario.
Halton's strategy is categorized into four separate areas: Strategy Implementation and Alignment, Communications, New Product Development and Performance Measurement.
Here are some details of each of those areas:
Strategy Implementation and Alignment
Any plan requires some foundation 'terms of reference' to start off with. The plan asks the Halton Tourism Partnership to being implementing the strategy.
The Halton Tourism Partnership is comprised of the region's Economic Development department, local municipal tourism offices, the Hamilton / Halton and Brant Regional Tourism Association, Conservation Halton and business improvement areas which meet on a regular basis.
Halton is also looking to align their initiatives around product and experience development priorities with the aforementioned provincial cycling tourism plan, with the goal of matching it.
They will also investigate partnership funding opportunities where there is a strategic mandate and expertise, including product development and communications outreach beyond the Halton market.
As always, with some big project like this, getting the word out is key.
The region is looking to build an image and video asset library, which would include material such as websites, blogs, social media which can feed into digital channels, as well as print materials, displays, video and advertising.
Another area is developing an inventory of available cycling infrastructure which supports cycling tourism, for establishing baseline data and mapping (digital, print) purposes, such as refreshing and reprinting the Halton Cycling Map.
Some other proposals in the strategy include:
A welcome package for cycling event participants, residents and visitors.
Leveraging events to maximize the exposure of participants and spectators to cycling tourism opportunities.
A business outreach campaign, a 'safe cycling, safe driving' messaging and outreach which complements existing Halton web content and Halton Region Police Services safe cycling campaigns.
Website portal for cycling tourism in Halton.
A single digital resource to assist event coordinators to host their cycling events.
Participate in efforts by partners to promote the area as a cycling destination and commence outreach to target markets encouraging visits to and within Halton.
New Product Development (new cycling routes, events and experience)
The goal under this segment of the strategy is to develop a prototype signature cycling route that includes Halton Region and would be featured in regional tourism marketing efforts, and looking for opportunities to create a regional cycling route sign design and implement a pilot project.
For some context to start with, here are maps of existing cycle routes around Halton.
Another "new experience" under the strategy is to create a multi-day, multi-venue, multi-activity and multi-partner cycling event, or weekend long and multi-day itineraries, packages and experiences to encourage overnight stays.
Finally, it is also important to measure the strategy's success. The plan is to identify resources to develop and implement an annual tracking and assessment plan. As well, gathering and analyzing the data in accordance with plan.
Halton Region does seem to have ample space to incorporate future cycling infrastructure, as well as leveraging the use of existing facilities, such as the Velodrome.
Also known as the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, the Velodrome (opened in 2015 for the Pan-Am Games) is one of only three indoor track facilities in North America that meets the rigorous requirements to host elite world track cycling championships, such as the Epic Tour Halton event, which attracts over 4,000 cyclists a year.
You can read more about Halton's cycling tourism strategy here.
What do you think about more cycling to promote tourists to come in Halton?