2023 Tourism and Economic Development Year End Report

YEAR END REPORT Tourism and Economic Development



The Hastings County Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report provides a summary of our programs, initiatives and accomplishments throughout 2023. Immediately following the election of a new Council, staff scheduled fourteen one-on-one meetings with each of the fourteen Heads of Council, their senior staff at the local municipal office and their representative on the Economic and Tourism Development Partners Group. The meetings provided an opportunity for County staff to have dialogue about economic and tourism development with all members of County Council at the onset of the new term, discuss the goals and actions outlined in the “Summary of 2021 Municipal Interviews & SMART Goals” and start mapping out a new set of actions and goals moving forward.

Paul Hartley Photography - Boulter Road, Carlow/Mayo


of training and workshops for small business owners 58+hours

Business owners and entrepreneurs directly assisted 393+

Local events marketed 32+

New jobs created 29

Businesses opened with in- depth direct business assistance That’s 100+ yards of ribbon for the ribbon cutting ceremonies! 17

People reached through online marketing 510,000+

Spent by overnight visitors at our local businesses $170.6 Million

Spent on startup expansion costs by business owners directly assisted $1.5 Million

In money spent at Retail, Travel & Entertainment and Services Businesses 10% Increase

$4.5 Million

Contributed to the local municipal tax base from 765,936 overnight visitors

Value of construction activity (119%) increase over 2019 $181.5 Million

($156.2 Million) 765,936 overnight visitors

2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


One of the main actions identified in the new Hastings County Strategic Plan is to increase available jobs through business expansion and retention. In 2023 we continued supporting a wide variety of existing and start-up businesses to overcome barriers through coaching and connecting them with valuable resources. Our “boots on the ground” presence is led by the Small Business Coordinator position. Working with local business owners, our Small Business Coordinator provides assistance in overcoming challenges and makes introductions to other organizations and individuals to find creative solutions to problems.


inquiries/requests for in-depth business assistance (1,905 since 2017) 393

projects assisted (533 since 2017) 78

6 expanded, 2 were purchased 17

businesses opened (113 since 2017);

existing businesses assisted (177 since 2017) 39

jobs created (166 since 2017) 29






$1.5 million total investment by business owners in 2023 (startup/expansion costs) ($12.1 million since 2017). 1

Paul Hartley Photography - Bow Lake, Faraday

2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


Start-up Business Kit With assistance from the Province’s Rural Economic Development Program, the Small Business Coordinator and Marketing Coordinator worked with a local graphic designer to create business kits that contain worksheets, inspiration and useful items for anyone who is beginning the journey of starting a business. 43 kits were distributed in 2023, and it even won a Marketing Canada award from the Economic Developers Association of Canada. The kit also contains a calculator, notebook, pen, bear shaped stress ball andmore.

Spring Job Fair

30 individuals were hired following this event. Upwards of

We heard from business owners

regularly about the challenges of finding employees. In partnership with Loyalist College’s Bancroft Campus, we hosted a Spring Job Fair on March 28th. Close to 150 job seekers attended and metwith20 employers. Upwards of 30 individuals were hired following this event.

eLearningU Tourism Marketing Training

Culinary Tourism Workshop We partnered with the Culinary Tourism Alliance on a workshop geared towards assisting our local farmers, producers and restaurants. We welcomed celebrity Chef Carl Heinrich who shared valuable insights and knowledge from over a decade of experience running a successful restaurant in downtown Toronto. Close to 40 businesses and farmers attended.

In September, we partnered with Canada’s premier digital marketing training platform, eLearningU. This annual membership grants 20 Hastings County businesses access to a lesson library filled with educational content from leading experts and educators and offers the opportunity to learn about the very best in tourism marketing. Our Learning Dashboard has three custom tutorial videos created just for Hastings County members that address real-time challenges we face in rural Ontario and how to tackle them. The goal of this partnership is to equip industry professionals with foundational skills in digital marketing tools, tactics, and strategies so they can cut through the noise, and focus on driving results.


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


Business Networking Workshop

Spring Workshop Series We hosted a series of workshops in the Spring to help businesses expand, improve their experiences, and find new customers. The goal of the Workshop Series was to help prepare participating businesses for the kick-off to the busy tourist season, while also creating evergreen educational content for all industry members. In 2024, these educational resources will be available on our new website to further their reach and impact.

At the end of the year and just before the Holiday break, we coordinated a workshop titled “A Decade of Life Lessons from a Creative Entrepreneur”. We invited guest speaker Christina Bagatavicius of Bespoke Collective to join 20 guests/business owners in attendance. The day also included a networking portion and business owners left with new connections and new ideas.

The three workshops were:


Tapping into the $12 Billion LGBTQ+ Tourism Market (19 attendees) Elevate Your Visitor Experience (21 attendees) Enhance Your Business’ Online Visibility (13 attendees)



Each workshop was designed to offer practical, hands-on knowledge and industry best practices that could be implemented by small business owners. Supported by workbooks, each attendee left armed with tactical takeaways and a road map forward. The sessions were well attended, and we received positive feedback from participants.

Small Business Month

For Small Business Month, we wanted to recognize local businesses throughout Hastings County for all that they do. To make it happen, we created a social post asking the public to nominate their favourite businesses, and we would give each business a small gift as recognition. The results were astounding, with over 100 businesses recognized. The Small Business Coordinator and Marketing Coordinator “hit the road” travelling over 400 KMs to visit each business in person. Each business was so thankful for the recognition and visit from Hastings County staff.


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


Examples of Investment Attraction/Assisted

Former Flakeboard Factory in Birds Creek

We have an investor interested in purchasing this building for a manufacturing operation. We setup a meeting with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade to discuss an application to the Eastern Ontario Development Fund and Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Competitiveness (AMIC). Also introduced them to the Business Scale-up and Productivity program and Community Economic Development and Diversification program with FedDev Ontario.

401 and Shannonville Road Owner/investor of a 45 acre site is in process of completing necessary studies and reports for commercial development. We setup a meeting for them with the local Township CAO and Mayor to discuss plans.

Worked with a local new accommodation business

New driving experience in Shannonville We have been assisting a new business that is going to offer a unique new driving experience on the Shannonville Motorsport Park track. They are planning to start welcoming customers in 2024.

Assisted with their expansion plans and connected them to Planning Staff for approvals of new amenities.

Gas station in Wollaston Township We heard concerns from Wollaston Township and neighbouring communities about the lack of fuel stations for vehicles and motorized trail users. We connected with the owner of the Coe Hill Country Market, who previously sold fuel, to determine their status and shortly after they were selling

New Hotel in Bancroft Following our participation in the Dragon’s Investor Event in Toronto, we connected a major hotel investor chain to a local property owner in Bancroft with a site ready for a hotel. We scheduled an in-person meeting at the Municipal office for the investor, the local property owner and Town officials to discuss plans and the investment opportunity.

fuel again. We provided them with information on who to connect with regarding building permits and highway/trail signage and also a list of some incentives that they might want to consider through senior levels of government.


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report

BUSINESS START-UP, RETENTION AND EXPANSION In 2023 we supported business start-ups by coordinating 17 Wildly Authentic grand opening (or re-opening) celebrations with our branded purple ribbon and carpet, kicking off each business' journey in style.


Martin Lortz Photography - Hastings Highlands

2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


In 2023 we elevated marketing of Hastings County as an ideal place to live, work and invest. 614 613,000+ Post Impressions 545,000+ People Reached

Social Posts

5.63% Engagement Rate

2.9K Views 56.8 Hours Watched

Website Visits: 12,653

NewUsers: 8,047

Facebook Followers: 4,184 up from 3,899

Instagram Followers: 3,172 up from 2,896


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


New Website

Staff spent a significant amount of time in 2023 on the development of the new Hastings County website. It includes information and online tools to help prospective entrepreneurs and existing businesses find up-to-date information on statistics and data, financial supports and an interactive property and building search tool.

Dragons Den Investment Event

We met with ten of the biggest tourism investment development companies at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre on October 6. We were joined by the Town of Bancroft and promoted Hastings County as a place to invest. We are actively communicating with at least two investment companies who see a good case for building a new hotel in North Hastings.

New Printed Materials

With the support of the Province's Rural Economic Development Grant, staff produced and published new marketing materials to hand out to seasonal residents. These are given to campgrounds, accommodations and other tourism businesses for their guests. The materials contain “Wildly Inspiring” messaging regarding relocating to Hastings and investing here.


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report

MARKETING HASTINGS COUNTY Design and Printed Tear-Off Maps We collaborated with a local designer to create tear-off maps highlighting the many Wildly Authentic Experiences we have to offer for locals and visitors alike. These have been printed and distributed across Hastings County as well as in Destination Ontario Tourism Centres, including OnRoutes. The maps feature 11 experience categories for anyone looking to experience cycling routes, rockhounding, museums, culinary, campgrounds and much more.

Vacant Window Installations

Funded in part by the Ontario Rural Economic Development Program, we approached owners of vacant commercial buildings to acquire permission to install removable adhesive vinyl to exterior windows. The window installations showcase artwork of a functioning business with an artistic touch (i.e. bookstore, cafe, barber shop etc.). Authentic and colourful, the installations are stopping people in their tracks while exploring our communities. The installations include our logo and a call to action to learn more.

Business Testimonial Videos

Staff coordinated the production of a “Wildly Successful” video series in 2023. Each episode features a business owner who has received one-on-one in-depth assistance from the Small Business Coordinator. Local entrepreneurs describe

their positive experience living and working in Hastings County while

providing a testimonial for the services provided by Hastings County Economic Development. The series is meant to encourage others to open a business here.


Laura Voskamp - Stirling-Rawdon

2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


New Tourism Website

New Interactive Itineraries

The new Hastings County website features an extensive “Adventures” section. It showcases an up-to-date directory of many attractions, businesses and experiences across all 14 member municipalities. This includes a new feature of more than 101 purchasable experiences (and growing). Demonstrating the many different ways visitors can explore our natural playground, these experiences range from where to rent a kayak or bicycle, to where to eat or sleep, to where you can catch a live theatre performance.

In 2023 we developed 13 interactive online itineraries. These thematic trips are designed to aid visitors with trip planning by featuring multi-day adventures that outline step-by- step routes. Each unique itinerary has an ideal visitor (for example a family, or a romantic couple's weekend) and is developed to showcase accommodations, food and drink, and experiences that meet the travel desires of that specific visitor. To take the guess work out of the trip planning process, the itineraries are now available on our new website and all a visitor must do is select a trip that suits their travel preference, contact businesses for booking through the direct links provided, and enjoy their time while in our destination.

New Cycling Routes

Hastings County’s winding backroads surrounded by rolling farmlands, verdant forests, and inviting downtowns make it a haven

for cyclists. While we had the natural infrastructure, until this last year, we didn’t have curated routes for cyclists to follow. In 2023 staff, supported by industry experts, developed routes designed to take visitors past purchasable experiences, restaurants, and accommodations while showing off our stunning

New Highway Entrance Signs We worked with the Ministry of Transportation to create and install new road signs on the 401 Highway. We also worked with Canadian TODS to produce two Highway 28 entrance signs. The signs feature our updated Hastings logo and the Wildly Authentic branding. This helps create consistency with our marketing and branding and also helps with a sense of place.

landscape. Hastings County now has 19 routes featured on our new website, as well as on the rider-approved Ride with GPS app.


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


Farm Show and Plowing Match

Rockhound Gemboree

We coordinated a tent display at the Hastings County Plowing Match and Farm Show in August. In the tent, we were joined by representatives from Tyendinaga Township, The Municipality of Tweed, Quinte West, Harvest

We setup and staffed a display again this year at the Gemboree. We handed out our new publications and answered questions from those who stopped by our display.

Hastings and our Paramedics. We interacted with more than 700 peoplewho directly visited our tent over the two-day period.

New Tourism Maps

Staff created a series of fun and engaging tourism maps each themed to a particular industry to help locals and visitors easily find related businesses.

New Tourism Marketing Brochures

As outlined in the SMART Goals Plan, staff created three new brochures, each with the goal of helping visitors easily access information such as What do do?, Where to stay?, and Where to eat?.

New Video Series Promoting Business and Purchasable Experiences

In 2023 we recorded a series of videos showcasing Wildly Authentic purchasable experiences across the County. We worked with local comedian Timmy Boyle to be the host and go behind the scenes to learn how products are made, what adventures can be found here and what experiences people can enjoy.


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


Marketing Local Events

We helped promote and share many events throughout Hastings County, including the GMHL All-Star Game in Bancroft, SOICE Fest, Hastings Snowshoe Hustle, Faraday Winter Fun Day, Women in Wellness Expo Marmora, International Womens Day, O’Hara Mill Sugar Bush Event, Harvest Hastings Let’s Eat!, New Beginnings Gala, Marmora MACKfest, Spring Fling Shopping Event, Madoc Classic Shine & Show, Bancroft Rockhound Gemboree, Rally of the Tall Pines, O’Hara Maple, Front Porch Shenanigans, Tweed Powerboat Races, Bay of Quinte Pride, Kegs, Corks & Curds, Indigenous Peoples Day, Bryan’s All In at Our Neighbours’ Farm, Tweed Farm to Table, National Drowning Prevention Week, Hastings County Plowing Match & Farm Show, Tweed and Area Studio Tour, Bancroft and Area Studio Tour, Tweed Stampede, Marmora Scarecrow, Hastings Highlands Hilly Hundred, Queensborough Movie Nights, Spooky Season Events, Small Business Week, Heart of Hastings, not to mention the many incredible Festivals, Fairs, Markets and more across the County.

Come Explore Hastings

In 2023, staff hosted two travel influencers who were able to share their experiences, adventures, and knowledge with their audience and ours to help inspire and educate potential visitors on the many incredible destinations we have to offer. Here are just a few of the local stops they experienced and shared:












REACH: 35,176



©Jacob Côté Photography - Farm Girl Cafe

2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report

TOURISM STATISTICS & OUTCOMES We have covered our tourism efforts and marketing undertaken in 2023. Now let’s look at the outcomes. Tourism marketing helps increase revenue generated by visitors which in turn goes back into the local economy to help with sustaining infrastructure and local businesses. According to Environics, in 2023 Hastings County welcomed an estimated 765,936 overnight visitors, from beyond 60KMs away. The average stay was 3 nights.

Snapshot of how many visitors from 60+ KMs away stay overnight in our 14 member municipalities combined:


Number of Trips


691,884 in 2020 956,080 in 2021 942,724 in 2022 765,936 in 2023

1,241,457 in 2020 1,506,692 in 2021 1,412,836 in 2022 1,129,118 in 2023

3,146,014 in 2020 3,464,251 in 2021 3,283,628 in 2022 2,710,466 in 2023

4-Year Average: 839,156

4-Year Average: 1,322,525

4-Year Average: 3,151,089

(Data Source: Environics VisitorView: privacy-compliant, anonymous mobile location data, administrative datasets and analytics to produce neighbourhood-level of estimates of overnight visitors.)

According to the Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model created by the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the economic impacts of spending by overnight visitors across the County in 2023 was the following:

$170.6 Million

$4.5 Million


Total visitors’ spending

Direct impact on the retention or creation of how many jobs?

Municipal taxes collected that can be attributed to overnight visitors


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


Hastings County businesses also enjoyed increased spending by customers in 2023. Money spent at Retail, Travel & Entertainment, and Service Business in all 14 Member Municipalities was an estimated $156.2 Million in 2023. That’s a 10% increase from $141.8 Million in 2022 & a huge 50% increase from $104.1 Million in 2019 pre-pandemic. (Source: Anonymized credit and debit card transaction information processed by Moneris)

Tourism Impacts





(Source: Deloitte direct telephone and online survey of Hastings County accommodation businesses, retailers and restaurants)

Short Term Accommodations

Short-term rental number of booked nights: 184,615 8% increase over 2022

Number of booked listings: 502 18% increase over 2022

Number of available listings: 559 21% increase over 2022

Revenue: $17.8 Million 3% increase over 2022

(Source: AirDNA


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report



Agriculture plays a major role in the economy of Hastings County. The County is pleased to partner with and support the work of the Harvest Hastings Board and their initiatives for the year. Harvest Hastings operates a website www.harvesthastings.ca that garnered over 19,000 visitors in 2023. The site features more than 200 listings of our local farms, products and businesses. It helps the general public and consumer learn what is produced locally, who the producers are and where to purchase from them.

The organization supplements the website with a printed magazine, and in 2023 they distributed 3,000 copies. Since part of their role is to promote sourcing local, they coordinated a local food dinner on April 28. Catered by a local chef, the dinner drew more than 100 people who enjoyed a menu that contained nearly 80% ingredients from Hastings County farms. They plan to host another dinner in 2024.


The forestry sector also plays a major role in our local economy. The County continues to partner with and support the work of the Bancroft Area Forest Industry Association (BAFIA). As part of the Town of Bancroft’s downtown revitalization, and to promote the forestry economy, BAFIA installed a mural displaying a horse drawn carriage with harvest lumber on a building in the downtown. One of BAFIA’s major initiatives is hosting “Forestry Day” for students. In 2023 they helped educate more than two hundred students on skills that could be utilized within a forestry career. For students in grade 7 or 8, they were taught how to collect data for a proper forest inventory, how to conduct tree marking as well as maintenance for regeneration of harvested areas.

BAFIA also provided visitors with educational experiences at Eagles Nest Park.


2023 Economic and Tourism Development Year-End Report


Average Price :

Units Sold:

2022: 1908 2023: 2068

2022: $619,716 2023: $589,103

8% Increase

-5% Decrease

Source: Central Lakes Association of Realtors, includes separated Cities.

Number of Building Permits:

2019: 1,306

2022: 1,919

2023: 1,261

Total Dollar Value of Construction Activity:

2019: 82.8M

2022: 175.7M

2023: 181.5M

(Source: Building Departments for all fourteen Member Municipalities. 2019 data is provided to compare with pre-pandemic figures).



2023, Hastings County Plowing Match and Farm Show

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