2022 Annual Review
Another lockdown, workforce shortages, supply chain, inflation, and changes in consumer travel habits made 2022 a difficult year for many in the tourism industry. Through these challenges the Tourism industry has continued to evolve and grow. Thank you to all who have hung in there, innovated and invested in tourism in Oxford County. We are grateful for your passion and vision.

Tourism Oxford is excited to provide the 2022 annual review newsletter that highlights tourism activities and accomplishments in Oxford County that align with our 2022 Business Plan objectives:

  • Sustainability education & collaboration for businesses
  • Increase business engagement with Tourism Oxford
  • Modernize visitor services with website, technology and signage
  • Develop Tourism Oxford awards and grant programs
  • Print a new edition of the Oxford Fresh Map

Read on to celebrate tourism accomplishments in Oxford County in 2022.
Funding partnerships
Success happens through partnerships and collaboration allowing pooling of budgets and efficient operations to achieve group goals. Thank you to the following partners in 2022.
Ontario's Southwest Partnership Fund

This program provided matching funds for Oxford County to host numerous travel writers, access valuable market research, and advertise to new audiences. Project partnerships in 2022 included:
  • Tourism Relief Fund (read feature below)
  • Three travel media features
  • Digital advertising partnerships with 4,900,420 impressions
  • Environics Research
  • Great Taste of Ontario membership
  • Sustainable tourism workshops
  • Travel agency familiarization trip
  • Unlocked and Inspired coaching & training
Ontario's Southwest Tourism Relief Fund

Ontario's Southwest received nearly $11 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to support tourism stakeholders across the region, as part of a Government of Canada contribution of over $78 million to support 11 Regional Tourism Offices and Indigenous Tourism Ontario through the Tourism Relief Fund.

Oxford County’s application was successful, resulting in an $88,000 contribution (see Council report). Oxford County also assisted local businesses and organizations their applications. Assistance included information sharing, concept development, writing, and letters of support. Nine local businesses and organizations had successful applications, bringing the total funds contributions in Oxford County to more than $886,000. This will have a legacy impact on tourism in the region.

Thank you Ontario's Southwest and FedDev Ontario for investing in tourism in Oxford County.
Oxford Tourism grant
Community Futures Oxford and Tourism Oxford formed a partnership to create a grant program to support local tourism operators in creating new reasons to visit Oxford County. This grant provided provided three businesses with a $3000 grant.

Congratulations to the recipients and thank you for your investments in Oxford County.

Thank you to Rural Oxford for joining this grant program, allowing a third grant to be awarded. The 2023 grant program being funding by Community Futures, Rural Oxford and Tourism Oxford is now accepting applications
Great Taste of Ontario
The Great Taste of Ontario is the Culinary Tourism Alliances award winning provincial marketing campaign promoting culinary road trips across Ontario with a digital passport program. As a partner, Tourism Oxford had a passport created for the Oxford County Cheese Trail. As a result Oxford had 541 passport downloads, and 649 check-ins at local businesses, a front page feature in a Globe and Mail special insert, and promotion through digital advertising campaigns. Thank you to the Culinary Tourism Alliance and Ontario's Southwest for this partnership.
Be a take-out hero
When the January 2022 lockdown was announced Tourism Oxford had a campaign ready to support local restaurants. It was quickly implemented in partnership with Community Futures Oxford and economic development departments for Ingersoll, Rural Oxford, Tillsonburg and Woodstock.

The "Be A Take-out Hero" campaign involved digital advertisements and contests where readers had to write a comment about their favourite local restaurants. This campaign resulted in 780 comments, posts reaching 48,142 individuals and $1200 in restaurant gift cards as prizes. The campaign benefited from high engagement with comments which also provided excellent word of mouth recommendations for local restaurants.
Destination Ontario
Tourism Oxford partnered with Destination Ontario on two projects in 2022.
  • Abishek Dekate visit to Oxford which was featured on the Destination Ontario social media fall campaign
  • Two days of photography and video in Oxford County. This project provided video and photography for local businesses, Tourism Oxford and Destination Ontario to use in marketing.
Oxford Fresh partnership

Oxford Fresh is a partnership between Oxford County and the Oxford County Federation of Agriculture (OCFA) to promote sourcing food from local producers. In 2022 this partnership completed the following activities:

  • 57 producers featured on the 4th edition of the Oxford Fresh Map
  • 9 Oxford Fresh laneway signs printed.
  • Developed an online sign-up form.
  • Created a free online listing option.

Tourism Oxford also greatly appreciated the additional support the OCFA and OFA provided through the revive fund. This funding resulted in a new Oxford Fresh video being produced, new Oxford Fresh t-shirts and a billboard advertising campaign.

The map will be printed again in 2024, but we are now accepting applications for free website listings and to purchase Oxford Fresh laneway signs.
Product development
Tourism Relief Fund

June 2022 Oxford County was selected to be a recipient of the Tourism Relief Fund, a FedDev Southern Ontario fund administered by Ontario's Southwest, Through this fund Oxford County was able to create/enhance tourism product and experiences through development, training and collaborations focusing on culinary, inclusive, sustainable, cycling and seasonal development.. 

Key outcome highlights include:

  • 304 registrations for professional development workshops (read more below)
  • The Cheese Trail created a new promotional video and brought back Big Cheese Days . The Cheese Trail also onboarded 6 new partners for2023.
  • 3 new experiences prepared to launch in 2023 (read more below)
  • 18 businesses participated in the Rural Routes program (read more below)
  • New cycling routes were created expanding our gravel road opportunities into new areas, encouraging overnight travel. Services for cyclists were improved with bench and bike repair stations installed on the Trans Canada Trail
  • Twenty businesses made one or more improvements in diversity, sustainability and seasonal dispersion. 
  • As a result of shoulder season work Tourism Oxford and Ontario's Southwest are partnering on the first winter campaign for Oxford County. 
Enhanced blog listings
Thank you to the 28 businesses that took advantage of TourismOxford.ca's Enhanced Blogs. Through this program businesses get a professionally written blog highlighting their business on TourismOxford.ca. These blogs are also then featured on social media and in newsletters. Having content to promote businesses is incredibly valuable. Businesses can also link to the blog featuring their business for added promotional benefit.
5 Rural Route events in 2022
Another year of businesses organizing, hosting and marketing events and itineraries that embrace our rural routes. We had some great outcomes including:
  • 18 different businesses collaborating
  • 51% average increase in sales for participating businesses
  • overall ad results for 5 events resulted in 692,468 impressions and 6,238 link clicks

We want to thank all of the participants of the Rural Routes Program for 2022!

Through conducting some inspiring and practical feedback meetings with our Rural Routes partners, we have made some updates to the program (focusing more on one-day events), AND created a brand-new program focused on seasonal or year-long itineraries. Make sure to attend our kick-off session(s) in February to learn more!

Make sure to get your applications in for Rural Routes 2023 before March 1st!
Three new experiences
Experiential Tourism continues to grow in popularity meeting consumers needs for authentic transformative travel. Tourism Oxford was excited to work with the following new experiences launching in 2023.

  • Perennial Palettes, Aggie Armstrong Fine Arts
  • Hopeful Harvest, Rising Roots Farm
  • Equine experiences, Transitions Equine

Tourism Oxford staff are trained experiential tourism coaches. We are also excited to share that both David Schonberger (Ottercreek Woodworks) and Cheryl Haskett (Udderly Ridiculous Farm Life) took the training with Ontario's Southwest this fall.

If you are interested in learning how you can create a visitor experience, contact us. We will be happy to meet with you and explain the process and discuss the potential.
Visitor information signage
Tourism Oxford continued its work to install visitor information signage in Oxford County. Due to COVID, supply chain and staff change over, less was installed than desired. Yet, the year still had accomplishments including new signage installed at the Oxford County Courthouse. This project provides a self-guided free tourism activity for visitors enjoying a historical tour of the Oxford County Courthouse and other City of Woodstock historical tours.

We are also excited that a partnership was formed with the City of Woodstock and BIA to install signage in Downtown Woodstock.

With a full complement of staff we will be continuing to install signage across Oxford County in 2023.
Award winners
Oxford Tourism Awards
2022 was the launch of the Inaugural Oxford Tourism Awards. Congratulations to all of the nominees and the following winners.

  • Responsible Tourism, Indigo Lounge Wellness Centre & Eatery
  • Tourism Partnership, Oxford County Pride
  • Best New Tourism Product, Udderly Ridiculous Farm Life

Also a special thank you to Kintore Custom Hardwoods who created the awards. We encourage local businesses to consider applying in 2023.
Ontario's Southwest Innovation Awards
Celebrating innovation, resilience, adaptability, and sustainability were the focus for the 2021 Southern Ontario Tourism Innovation Awards. Congratulations to the local award winners:

  • Ottercreek Woodworks Inc., 2021 Sustainability Trailblazer of the Year Award

  • Udderly Ridiculous Farm Life, 2021 Innovator of the Year
Ontario Tourism Resiliency Awards
The Ontario Resiliency Awards have been designed to reflect resiliency through innovation, collaboration and partnership. Awards are presented by business category in each of the following three areas: collaboration, innovation, and sustainability.

Udderly Ridiculous Farm Life had 8 nominations and received 3 awards including sustainability, innovation and collaboration.
Ontario Tourism Champion of the Year
Oxford County’s exceptional work in tourism was recognized at the Ontario Tourism Resiliency Awards in Huntsville, where Meredith Maywood, the County’s tourism lead, was recognized as a 2022 Tourism Champion of the Year.

The Tourism Champion award, bestowed through Tourism Industry Association of Ontario peer nominations, is awarded annually to an individual who embodies Ontario's tourism spirit. Maywood’s selection was based on a number of achievements and collaborations.
Professional development
Photo of attendees standing in front of 1909 Culinary Academy at the Winter's Harvest Event.
Tourism Oxford had over 304 registrations for professional development workshops in 2022. Surveys of attendees indicated:

  • 94% learned something new that will help them in their work.
  • 92% met someone they'd like to network and collaborate with in the future.
  • 86% are going to act on the information they learned to adopt a practice, create something new etc.
Some of the professional development workshops we hosted included:
  • Creating Safer Spaces
  • Description and Access for Anti-Black Archival Materials
  • 2022 Season Partnership Opportunities
  • Working with Ontario Southwest
  • Experiential Tourism Training
  • Diversity Equity and Inclusion: Getting Started
  • Sourcing Local Networking Event
  • Social Media and Online Branding
  • Rural Routes Partnerships
  • Developing Shoulder Season Travel
  • Sustainable Tourism & Eco-Fund

We are excited about new training opportunities in 2023 including making social simple, TikTok, Panel-Palooza and more!
Investing in tourism
Tourism is in recovery. That recovery is happening thanks to the investment of local tourism operators. Thank you to the following for your investment of time, passion and funds into the future of tourism.
New Owners
  • Adam, Jesse, Nicki Quesnel purchased the Olde Bakery Café
  • Angela Neddo taking over Habitual Chocolate in downtown Woodstock
  • Ed and Maureen McLaughlin, Patrick Mcmahon and Moe Morris for investing in the Mill property Inn and Restaurant.
  • Marja & Lawrence DeBoer-Marshall for opening Golspie Dairy

Significant Investments
  • Terra Nova Nordic Spa: new Nordic spa
  • Golspie Dairy: new cheese factory
  • Reel Treats: new location with soda shop
  • Snyder's Family Farm: a massive new playground
  • Thames River Melons: new food truck
  • Ingersoll Cheese Museum: exhibit improvements and digital signage
  • Ingersoll BIA: downtown public art
  • Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre: accessibility
  • Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese: EV charging centre
  • Walter's Music Venue: creation of a second stage and lounge
  • Elmhurst Inn & Spa: spa renovations
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites: renovations PLUS construction of a new hotel (starting March 2023)

Return of Events & Theatre
  • 125+ Events in our calendar for 2022
  • Local theatres including ITOPA, Thistle Theatre, Tillsonburg Theatre, Theatre Woodstock and Walter's Music Venue.
  • Returning Events: Wienerfest, local fairs, Woodstock Streetfest, Harvestfest, Oxford County Pride Family Day, Holiday Artisan Markets, Sollgood, Norwich Nostalgia Days, Tractor Pulls and much more.
  • New Events: Ingersoll Kiwanis Harvest Market Day, Ingersoll Pizza Fest, Sollgood, Woodstock Downtown Shopping Nights.

Did we miss you? Contact us when you make a tourism investment. We will celebrate it in our industry newsletter
Media coverage
Best Things To Do In Woodstock Ontario

Looking for the best things to do in Woodstock, Ontario? Woodstock and Ingersoll are located in the heart of Oxford County, between London and Kitchener Waterloo in Ontario Southwest. Known as the "Dairy Capital of Canada," the city of Woodstock...

Read more
Thank you to the numerous writers who took the time to explore and feature stories about Oxford County.
Media Partnerships with SWOTC:
Media Partnerships Destination Ontario
Earned Media:
Advertising in 2022
Thank you to the tourism businesses and SWOTC which partnered with us on several campaigns. We also want to thank Community Futures Oxford and Rural Oxford for the opportunity to partner on a holiday campaign that drove traffic to Tourism Oxford's holiday webpage. Supporting our local businesses was a priority this holiday season.

The following provides a few key highlights from 2022.
  • 580,000 print circulation
  • 2.3 million digital screen impressions
  • 8.1 million digital advertising impressions
  • Reprinting Outdoors & Oxford Fresh maps
TourismOxford.ca gets speedy
Tourism Oxford continues to make improvements to its website. In 2022 this included a significant improvement in website speed, bringing site download times to under 1 second.

The numbers
  • 398,000 page views (5.18% increase)
  • 30% decrease in session duration. This could be tied to the improvement in our site speed. While we had an increase in sessions, we also saw individuals navigating faster to pages, along with more focused content.
  • How people are coming to the site also indicates improvements in SEO and brand recognition with a 35% increase in organic traffic (search engine results) and direct (typing in address). We also saw a decrease in referral traffic which is expected considering Oxford hosted fewer travel writers in 2022.
Work continues
In 2023 plans are to: evaluate website layout to streamline visitor experience, aid in trip planning/itinerary building, and encourage action when it comes to booking.

Submit consumer offers:
The Tourism Website includes an offers page. Any business with a listing can submit an offer for this page. Offers must be valid for 1 month minimum. Contact us for details to take advantage of this opportunity.
Social media highlights
Subscribers/Followers (20,020)
  • 4,400 Newsletter subscribers
  • 25,956 YouTube minutes viewed & 167 new followers

Content Created:
  • Oxford Insider Newsletter (15 newsletters, 2711 average views, 43% open rate, 5.5% click-thru rate.)
  • 21 in-house videos featuring 45 local attractions
  • 50 reels on Instagram
  • 5 professional videos, plus over 600 short clip videos (Destination Ontario & Chatham-Kent Partnership)
Goodbye, hello - changing faces
In 2022, Tourism Oxford said farewell to Jeanne Turner, who retired, and Gabrielle Mueller who started a new position with the Culinary Tourism Alliance. We wish Jeanne well and are happy to work with Gabrielle in her new role.

Tourism Oxford was very excited to have two very talented individuals join our team: Karlee Slattery and Emily van Straten. Both Karlee and Emily joined us with extensive tourism and business development experience. Since they have joined the team they have been very busy bringing new skills to the team. Karlee has been working on content development for social media, newsletters and the website. Emily has been busy providing business support including the Rural Routes partnership, industry newsletter and professional development sessions.
2023 Business Plan Highlights
Oxford County Council approved Tourism Oxford's 2023 Business Plan. Through this plan Tourism Oxford will will provide its core services in management, product development and marketing. 2023 Business plan highlights include:
Increase business engagement with Tourism Oxford
Increase the number of businesses taking advantage of Tourism Oxford’s business supports, collaborations and opportunities. The result will be more businesses with free website listings, attending workshops, and new tourism product/collaborations.

Modernize Visitor Services
Improve visitor information services with increased signage and improved customer experience online. Install visitor information signage in municipalities at key locations, where it has not yet been installed. Develop website content that increases website satisfaction through time spent on website and website traffic.

Education and Collaboration
Support tourism businesses to meet consumer needs with training sessions and collaborations for sustainability, experiential travel, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Apply to host a Destination Ontario photography shoot
Partner with Destination Ontario to host a photo and video shoot of Oxford County, providing content for use by Tourism Oxford and Destination Ontario. This will provide Destination Ontario with a comprehensive photo and video bank so they can promote all municipalities in Oxford County.

Learn more at our 2023 on-line kick-off meetings!
Thank you for all of your support in 2022
 Emily, Karlee and Meredith
Tourism Oxford | 519-539-9800 x3355 | tourism@oxfordcounty.ca | Industry website | Consumer website