Wellesley will continue to provide funding for the continuation of the Waterloo Region Tourism Marketing Corporation until 2015. Four years ago the township endorsed the creation of the marketing corporation, funding the region-wide organization with $5,000 annually.
Last year a re-evaluation was conducted by the chief administrative officers in Waterloo Region, who concluded the municipalities should continue to provide support for the marketing corporation as it promotes tourism throughout the region, adding value to the economy and assisting in delivering a strong unified approach to tourism services in the area.
Coun. Herb Neher, however, had some reservations during Tuesday night’s discussion in council chambers, questioning if there was a way to determine if the township was seeing a return on its investment.
“We are spending $5,000, but how do we know that we are getting anything back from this in the long run?” asked Neher. “I can see that it would be great for the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, as they have a lot of facilities, but we don’t have any museums, concert halls or hotels, and I am wondering if we are really getting our money’s worth out of this.”
Neher told council he would like to see how belonging to a marketing corporation benefits the township.
“I would be interested in seeing if any businesses see an increase in sales or are more out-of-towners coming in after we contribute to the committee,” he said. “Just because it is marketing does not mean it is valuable marketing or that you are getting your money’s worth. I just want to know how effective this group is to the area.”
Mayor Ross Kelterborn assured Neher that the marketing corporation helps the entire region, adding that it aids in the promotion of local festivals like the Apple Butter and Cheese festival and the St. Clements car show, as well as the Buy Local! Buy Fresh! and agri-tourismin the area.
“We are trying to create a brand for the region. When you hear about Stratford you think of the festival, but when the Waterloo Region is mentioned there is not one particular thing that comes to mind – it offers a lot of stuff, but not a single catchphrase to describe the area as a whole. That is what marketing will do for the area,” said Kelterborn.
CAO Susan Duke backed the mayor’s statement, saying the marketing group is trying to create buzz for the region and that it is hard to quantify how much of a return the township really sees entering this program.
Noting that the City of Kitchener adds $90,000 to the venture, she said Wellesley’s contribution is not a large share, adding it keeps the Township of Wellesley on the map through the marketing and advertising.