2020 and Looking Forward
With the recent announcement it feels like a dark winter. But with vaccines starting to roll out there is a brighter future ahead. We also understand this will take time to implement and Canadians need to maintain safety precautions.
2020 was challenging and local tourism businesses stepped up, tackled challenges, found solutions and also some opportunities. This didn't come easily but was the effort of a lot of planning, time and creativity on your part. We know there were personal, professional and financial costs to this. Through all of this you still made time for our calls, participated in workshops and initiatives. Thank you.
We want to maintain traditions, one of those being our year end industry newsletter highlighting some of the accomplishments and activities of the year. It is a chance to reflect on successes that are the result of hard work, effort and collaboration of our partners. Thank you.
Oxford County Council Support
Oxford County Council recognized the challenges businesses faced as a result of COVID-19. Two actions that provided relief opportunities for tourism businesses included waiving tourism fees representing $62,500 in lost revenues to the County and a $1 million contribution to the Oxford County Economic Stimlus Fund.
Financial Partnerships
Success happens through partnerships and collaboration. Therefore Tourism Oxford is very grateful for the following financial partnerships and support in 2020.
TIAO and Fed Dev Ontario provided over $110,000 in Regional Relief Recovery Funding. This assisted with marketing, product development and research to help support and grow tourism in Oxford County. Much of the success reported below is the result of these funds.
SWOTC partnerships included: digital advertising, travel media, photography, Spark Mentorship, Travel & Trade, business training and research.
We also want to recognize that SWOTC initiated and brought partners to the table for a province -wide research project on consumer needs and habits during COVID-19. Learn from the report.
New 2020 Experiences
Experiential Tourism resonated with consumers in 2020 looking for activities to enjoy with just their bubble. Over 13 Oxford businesses have invested in experiential travel. New experiences in 2020 included Snyder's Family Farm and Wild Comfort Body Care. See experiences.
New Travel Itineraries
Thank you to the 33 business that participated in the new Rural Routes Collaborations in 2020. This program resulted in:

  • 5 itineraries in rural and urban areas
  • Partner collaboration allowed us to access SWOTC's matching marketing dollars.
  • A marketing reach of 522,000 impressions with a click-thru rate above industry average.
  • The Ingersoll itinerary resulted in Tasty Road Trips creating a walking tour in the community.
While partnerships did look different this year, we look forward to promoting more collaborations in the future. We are accepting proposals for the 2021 Embrace our Rural Routes sponsorship. Download Form
Congratulations David at Ottercreek Woodworks for attracting the attention of Food & Drink Magazine and Murray at 1909 Culinary Academy for sharing his story with Toronto Life
Writer Recognition
Oxford County did receive significant media coverage in 2020. Thank you to the writers that took the time to get to know Oxford County.

If there is a writer you would like to work with let us know. We connect with SWOTC to discuss partnerships to host writers. We are currently planning for 2021.
2020 Advertising Results
Advertising in 2020 took a different direction, focusing on a hyper local market. A high number of Oxford County visitors come to see friends and family. Therefore this campaign can have a long term impact increasing time spent in Oxford, when family visits.
Tactics included:
  • 20,000 visitor guides distributed directly to Oxford County households.
  •  Billboards (spring campaign 1 million reach). Winter campaign underway.
  • 4.65 million impressions on several digital campaigns including: Tourism campaigns and Supporting Oxford.
  • Print & Radio ads
  • Great Taste of Ontario Partnership

Website Traffic 16% Increase
In 2020 TourismOxford.ca had over 294,000 page views, a 16% increase compared to 2019.

Popular content includes:
Advertising landing pages, events calendar, cheese trail and cycling, are popular pages. COVID has also meant an increased interest in outdoor activities and activities to do with just one's household.
Supporting Oxford Partnership
Within 24 hours on of March 17, SupportingOxford.ca was launched to let locals know who offered delivery and curbside pick-up. This happened through the partnership of Community Futures Oxford, Tourism Oxford,Rural Oxford EDC and the Social Factory. Throughout the year several financial partners came on board to assist with marketing efforts.

The site provides quick access to information relevant to consumers' current needs including its November conversion into the "Oxford Shopping Channel".
325 Workshop Registrations
Thank you to the 325 registrants for workshops in 2020. Training sessions were held to share:

  • best practices to pivot in lock down
  • how to communicate with consumers
  • how to prepare for reopening

This training had the reach it did due to partnerships with local Chambers of Commerce, Community Futures Oxford, ROEDC and SWOTC.
Thank you all for your involvement.
OMEGA Tours launches in Oxford
Tourism Oxford and SWOTC are working with Omega Travel who launched a series of "Buy Now Travel Later" itineraries. Four of their itineraries feature Oxford County.
Upcoming Projects in 2021
Tourism Oxford understands there will be COVID-19 challenges in 2021. Oxford County Council has approved the Tourism 2021 Business Plan (pg 257). This plan looks to address COVID-19 challenges while finding opportunities to sustain and grow the tourism sector in Oxford County. The following are a few of the actions planned for 2021.
Restaurants - Be A Takeout Hero
With the restaurants being shut-down Tourism Oxford created a campaign to promote people ordering takeout. This month long campaign includes a radio contest, digital and print advertisements. Restaurants with dine-in seating/customer washroom (traditionally) & no drive-in can participate with a listing on the takeout page (email tourism@oxfordcounty.ca). Restaurants can also promote the Heart FM Radio Contest.
Visitor Signage Program:
Work is underway to transition from the discontinued visitor kiosk to a new visitor signage program across Oxford County. Oxford County Council has supported this initiative with modernization funding. As part of this project, the website will be slightly restructured to better serve visitors who are in market and directed to the site by signage.

Lure Brochure:
With the cancellation of the visitors guide, Tourism Oxford is currently working on a new interim lure brochure. This brochure will be widely distributed locally and to visitor information centres in Ontario.

Market Readiness Criteria:
Tourism Oxford will be offering free listings on TourismOxford.ca to businesses that meet the Tourism Market Readiness Criteria (developed through business consultation in 2020). Businesses will also be able to purchase an enhanced blog listing, and participate in partnership advertising opportunities. Details for these programs will be announced in February.
Embrace our Rural Routes Sponsorship:
This program provides sponsorship for travel itineraries involving partnership between numerous attractions. Learn more and apply

Oxford Fresh Laneway Signage Program:
Farm gate businesses, that meet the criteria, can order an Oxford Fresh Lane way sign. Learn more about this program

Great Taste of Ontario Road Trip:
Tourism Oxford is participating in this provincial campaign, developing itineraries for Oxford County. Businesses that participate need their Safe Travel Stamp (free program) and restaurants also need to make a commitment to becoming Feast On certified (free in 2021). Visit Road Trip website

If you have any questions about the above initiatives or would like to discuss an idea email tourism@oxfordcounty.ca.
      Gabrielle, Jeanne & Meredith

Tourism Oxford | 519-539-9800 x3355 | tourism@oxfordcounty.ca | www.tourismoxford.ca