I’m not great at goodbyes, but today is my last working day at TIAO, and my final day has fallen on a Thursday to give me one more chance to write to you all and share my thoughts. I want to start with a simple thank you – thank you to those that would often write back to these remarks with your feedback, questions, concerns, or simply with a ‘keep going!’. Whether it’s been via email, our virtual town halls, or meeting in person at one of our events it’s been a pleasure to interact and learn from you all.
Last month in Mississauga, at the Ontario Tourism Summit, I hinted at my deep frustration at the standstill we’ve reached. We have all worked so hard to get through the pandemic – not only to survive it – but to lay the foundations of a recovery amidst the perfect storm of rising interest rates, spiraling inflation, a broken supply chain, and geopolitical uncertainty. We came together to build a roadmap to recovery and to finally realise our potential and the growth we all know could lead to new jobs and greater economic prosperity. Yet many of these ideas and practical solutions are still only ink on paper and have not been put into practice.
We need governments at all levels to collaborate with us as we come to a critical point in our future. As we tackle some of the most pressing challenges, we’ve faced we can redefine what the future of tourism in Ontario will look like. Across the world ambitious governments are investing in their tourism sectors and seizing the opportunity to reap the economic, health, social, and cultural benefits that it brings. In destinations across the world there is a shared understanding that tourism is the driver of culture for visitors and locals alike – it brings people together in unforgettable experiences that engage body, mind, and soul. As we face ever more complex challenges tourism continues to be the forum where we remind ourselves and others who we are – as individuals, peoples, and nations.
I know that the next President and CEO of TIAO, with your support and a talented and dedicated TIAO team, will break the logjam and grasp the opportunities that are there for the taking. I now return to the UK both with an enlarged personal family and as a permanent member of the Ontario tourism family. I will be rooting for you all from across the pond and I know that if the past four years are any indication, you will yet again blaze a trail for others to follow.
It’s been an honour.