"Nowhere" campaign successful, OHTO says
By Chad Ingram
The Ontario Highlands Tourism Organization’s “Welcome to Nowhere” promotional campaign for the regional tourism area encompassing Haliburton County, Hastings and municipalities throughout the Ottawa Valley was a success, according to OHTO’s executive director.
Nicole Whiting visited councillors on the county’s tourism committee during a Dec. 9 committee meeting.
“Our message resounded with our audience,” said Whiting.
The campaign, aimed at urban audiences tired of the congested hustle and bustle of city living, promoted the idea of escaping to “nowhere,” and encouraged using the hashtag #NowhereMoment on Twitter to promote experiences enjoyed in the Haliburton Highlands and other areas that comprise OHTO.
Locally, there was significant backlash against the concept, with residents saying they found it insulting.
It was poorly received in some neighbouring communities as well.
“There were those that loved it, there were those who hated it,” Whiting said, adding though that “tourism became a topic of conversation,” which she considered positive.
OHTO is practising what is known as experiential tourism promotion, focusing on providing visitors with an unique experience – and accompanying emotions – rather than the promotion of specific features or destinations.
OHTO did a workshop in Haliburton County this year, helping business owners to become more “experiential.”
Locally, Haliburton County tourism director Amanda Virtanen told councillors she intends to continue with the county’s “Unwind Local” campaign.
Based on the popular “buy local” and “shop local” trends, that campaign too has been met with mixed reaction, some county residents abhorring its intentionally poor grammar.
The slogan, “just grates every last nerve in my body,” Highlands East Deputy-reeve Suzanne Partridge said.
And I love it, so there you go,” Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin quickly countered.