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Tourism Issues Forum 2020

20 Feb 2020
8:45am - 4:30pm EST
Event Details

Live stream tickets are now available.

How do I purchase a live stream ticket?

Click the box above to register and purchase a ticket. You will have to create an account as the purchasing of the ticket is through our live stream provider. If for some reason you are experiencing technical difficulties, click here. 

What is the price to purchase a live stream ticket?

  • $60 for TIAO Members (Please contact Haddas at to receive the member code)
  • $125 for Non-Members

What does my live stream ticket include?

Your live stream ticket includes access to watch all opening remarks, presentations, and closing remarks. 

How do I participate in discussions if I'm not attending in person?

Live stream participants will have access to interact and have their questions and comments answered using Slido. More details on how to submit questions will be answered the day of the event.

Will I have access to the live stream after the event is over?

Yes. All individuals who have purchased a ticket (in-person and live stream) will receive a link to the live stream video recordings at the end of the day in order for you to have access to all information covered.

Cancellation Policy

Please be advised that the Tourism Issues Forum does not offer refunds or cancellations for registration. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the TIAO office at 416-483-1691.

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Registration & Breakfast



Welcome & Opening Remarks

Hon. Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

Sandra Easton, Mayor, Town of Lincoln 

Anthony Annunziata, President, Tourism Niagara Canada 



Policy in Motion: Rapid Fire Update

Beth Potter, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

What’s your 20-20 vision? Hear about TIAO’s busy start to the new year – where we’ve been [Toronto, Victoria, Ottawa, and beyond] and what we’ve been up to. Policy is everywhere and so are we. Hear from President & CEO, Beth Potter, on how TIAO has been carrying the key policy concerns of our industry to all levels of government. 



Networking & Technical Break



Tourism Innovation & Agri-Business 

Rebecca Mackenzie, President & CEO, Culinary Tourism Alliance 

Ryan Crawford, Executive Chef, Backhouse

Scott McLauchlan, Partner, Transvaal Farm 

Are you interested in learning about developing and growing an Agri-Tourism operation in Ontario? The subject matter experts on the panel will speak to what you need, ranging from land, climate, infrastructure, to resources and staff. We will learn what it means for an agricultural business to expand the operational focus from production to people, as well as what is required to develop a business strategy that seeks to capture the market of both from the outset.



Working With Municipalities 

Michele Harris, Director of Economic and Community Development, Municipality of Grey Highlands 

Michele Harris has worked successfully on both the tourism and now the municipal side.  Michele will share insights into the seemingly disparate worlds of private sector tourism entrepreneurialism and the municipal government framework. Learn how to navigate and collaborate for greater collective impact! It can definitely be done, and done well.



Working Groups 

Moderated by Beth Potter, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

Following Michele Harris' presentation, groups will discuss strategies for working with your local municipality to keep tourism top of mind. 



Networking Lunch



MAT - Lessons Learned from Salt Lake City

Scott Beck, President & CEO, Tourism Toronto

The Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) is the new reality for the destination marketing and tourism industry in Ontario. The MAT is a transformational funding source that can grow tourism product development and promotion in every region of the province. However, we know that for this tax to function we must have very clear governance and reporting structures in place with our local municipality, relationships with the traditional overnight accommodations industry, and provincial and municipal regulation that is clear and enforceable. 

Hear from Tourism Toronto’s President and CEO, Scott Beck, on what we can learn from other jurisdictions as we look at what was accomplished, and the lessons learned from the Transient Room Tax in Utah. 



Networking & Technical Break 



A Conversation With Industry Leaders

Anthony Annunziata, President, Tourism Niagara Canada 

Mishka Balsom, President & CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Janice Thomson, President & CEO, Niagara Falls Tourism

Kelly Provost, Economic Development Officer, Niagara Region

Trisha Grant, Vice President of Industry Relations and International Marketing, Destination Ontario 

Magdalena Kaiser, Director of Public Relations, WMAO - Wine Marketing Association of Ontario  

Aaron Dobbin, President & CEO, WGAO - Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario

Beth Potter, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

Why is our industry filled with so many acronyms and who do we call for what?  Seize this opportunity to engage with individuals from organizations that work collaboratively together for the betterment of our industry.  This group is likely mirrored in your own community. 




Interactive Closing Remarks 

Beth Potter, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

Alexandra Rodgers, Director of Policy & Research, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

Delve into TIAO's key policy categories: labour, investment, and infrastructure. Our policy work is informed by the research, evidence, and you, members from all sectors of the tourism industry. This is your opportunity to share your thoughts on our messaging, and your examples of how policy affects your business.  Your participation will help us shape our 2020 policy agenda that will be our guide for Tourism Day at Queen's Park.


Lisa MacLeod

Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

Lisa MacLeod is Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries
A native of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Lisa attended St. Francis Xavier University where she obtained a BA Honours degree and completed Masters level course work in Strategic Intelligence at American Military University in Virginia.
Lisa was first elected in 2006 and was re-elected in 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2018.  In her terms in Opposition Lisa served as Vice Chair of the Legislative Assembly Committee, the Government Agencies Committee and the Public Accounts Committees.  She held senior critic portfolios in Finance, Treasury Board, Energy and Education, among others.  She also served as Vice-Chair of the Quebec- Ontario Parliamentary Committee and the Steering Committee for the Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentary Association.  As an opposition member, Lisa was able to receive all party support on numerous occasions for important initiatives such as making Queen’s Park Family Friendly, protecting Ontario’s horse racing industry, including the Rideau Carleton Raceway, Rowan’s Law (Canada’s first concussion legislation), Lebanese Heritage Month and Trans Day of Remembrance.
A supporter of Equal Voice for many years, Lisa was instrumental in the ground-breaking Daughters of the Vote initiative which brought 338 young women to Parliament Hill during Canada’s 150th.  For that work she was awarded the 2018 EVE Award for the advancement of women in politics.  Lisa was also the recipient of the Royal Canadian Legion Friendship Medal and the St. John’s Ambulance Commendation.  For her work in Ottawa she was named Top 25 in the Capital, Top 50 in the Capital and Faces Magazine’s Favourite MPP.
In Nepean, Lisa was a co-founder of the South Nepean Autism Centre (SNAP), is a member of the Barrhaven Legion, an avid supporter of the Barrhaven Food Cupboard and a former parent volunteer at Manordale Public School and the Nepean Hotspurs.  A hockey Mom, Lisa was a trainer with the Nepean Wildcats hockey team.  Lisa is also the author of a cookbook “I’d Rather Be Baking Cookies, A Collection of Recipes from Lisa MacLeod and Friends.
Lisa and her husband Professor Joe Varner live in Nepean with their daughter Victoria and their dog Bonnie Brae. 
Prior to being elected Lisa worked for Sobeys Inc, the City of Ottawa and for Nepean politicians.  She was also a commentator for Ottawa area political and current event programs.

Sandra Easton


Town of Lincoln 

Sandra Easton is a life-long resident of Lincoln. Elected as Mayor for her second term (2014-18, 2018-22), she has given more than 30 years of dedicated service to her community. Under her leadership, the Town of Lincoln has made great strides toward realizing its vision as a place to grow, a place to prosper, a place to belong.

As Mayor of one of the fastest growing municipalities in Niagara, Sandra is committed to providing new and meaningful opportunities for residents and business owners to help shape the future of their community. In fact, increasing public engagement is a pillar of the Town’s Future Focus strategic plan, which includes more than 150 action items to improve public services and facilities, attract and retain jobs and ensure proper planning and growth. Dedicated to proactive planning and strengthening partnerships with all levels of government and institutions, Sandra believes in the importance and value of local Councils to lead and build dynamic, people-focused communities.

Sandra brings to her role as Mayor, previous Council experience having served two terms as Alderman in the 1980’s. She also brings a strong record of success as a health care and management professional. A retired Registered Nurse and Nurse Practitioner, Sandra served for 25 years as Assistant Clinical Professor in McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences. She also earned a Masters of Public Administration Degree from Queen's University.

In addition to her role as Mayor, Sandra represents Lincoln on Niagara Regional Council and serves on several Regional Standing Committees.

An active supporter of many community organizations and initiatives, her volunteer work has included serving on the boards of the Jordan Historical Museum of the Twenty and the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society of Ontario.

Michele Harris 

Director, Economic & Community Development 

Municipality of Grey Highlands 

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Michele has a passion for placemaking and rural community development, often being referred to as a change-agent for using innovation, leadership & outside-the-box thinking to deliver impactful and successful outcomes. 

Her extensive background in marketing and media includes work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as owning an award-winning boutique marketing agency.

During her tenure as CEO of Headwaters Tourism, the work of her team was recognized with numerous national and provincial awards for marketing, innovation, and regional economic development.

At the end of 2018 Michele decided it was time to bring her skills to the place she calls home.  As Director of Economic & Community Development for Grey Highlands, she is working to position the Municipality for the future by building a strong, resilient and sustainable community through innovation, collaboration and community engagement.

Michele has served (and continues to serve) on the boards of several provincial and municipal tourism and economic development organizations, has been a professor and served on the Academic Advisory Committee at Humber College, and is a seasoned speaker on tourism, innovation and regional community development.

Scott Beck

President & CEO

Tourism Toronto

Following an extensive international search, Scott Beck became the President and CEO of Tourism Toronto in October 2019. For the past 14 years, Beck was the President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, UT. A proven leader in the destination sales and marketing industry, he served on the Executive Committee of Destinations International for six years and served as the organization’s International Board Chair from 2014-2015.

Before joining Visit Salt Lake, Beck worked in the hotel industry for 18 years, most recently with Ocean Properties Ltd. (OPL) as the General Manager of the Salt Lake Marriott City Center. While at OPL, Scott spent time in B.C. and Alberta working on a task force with OPL’s Canadian affiliate, Atlific Hotels. Prior to his time with OPL, Scott served as Director of Sales and Marketing for Sundance Resort in Provo, Utah.

Anthony Annunziata


Tourism Niagara Canada

Anthony Annunziata is the President of Tourism Niagara Canada, where he is responsible for overseeing the planning, development and execution of Niagara's marketing and advertising initiatives. He also generates top line revenue by increasing market share for the destination, through paid media, sales, earned media, and leveraging partner brands within the destination. 

Prior to his current role, Anthony previous roles included: Vice President of Marketing for Marriott Hotels Niagara, Vice President of Marketing for Hilton Hotel and Suites in Niagara Falls, and Vice President of Marketing for Niagara Casinos .

Mishka Balsom

President & CEO

Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC)

Mishka Balsom is the President and CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC), responsible for developing and implementing initiatives that are designed to strengthen the business climate in Niagara and support the economic prosperity of the region. Under her leadership, the GNCC launched a number of new programs, collaborative partnerships not only within the region but throughout Ontario and NY State.  

Mishka has positioned the GNCC as one of the region’s most credible and visible voices of business. Determined and passionate, she is positively advancing change through collaboration, adaptability and sound decision-making. In an effort to support the growth of Niagara’s economy, Mishka is actively involved with a high number of community organizations within Niagara, other municipalities across Ontario and internationally, with organizations such as the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership and many more.

Prior to joining the GNCC, Mishka has successfully held senior management positions within the Canadian media industry as well as owned her own communication’s company.

Rebecca Mackenzie

President & CEO

Culinary Tourism Alliance

Rebecca loves Canada, local edibles and, that her career enables her to explore Canada and the globe, connecting people across the agriculture and tourism industries to grow “taste of place”. Passionate about the interrelation between food, agriculture, tourism, arts and culture, Rebecca has been instrumental in developing tourism products including Prince Edward County’s award-winning Taste Trail/Route Des Saveurs, the CTA’s Feast On® accreditation program and food tourism curriculum at several post-secondary institutions. She and her team at the CTA are proud to be managing the leading food tourism and hospitality Terroir Symposium.

Rebecca manages highly participatory and asset-based community development projects at the local, regional, provincial, national and international levels. She oversees all program and partnership development for the Terroir Symposium and develops comprehensive marketing partnerships to increase awareness of Canada’s food tourism experiences including the inaugural World’s 50 Best Restaurants Explores Ontario campaign.

Rebecca contributes her expertise to a variety of industry Boards including Destination Ontario’s Sector Committee and the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Gastronomic Tourism Network. Rebecca belonged to Destinations Canada’s Brand Experience Advisory Committee that developed the Canadian Signature Experience Program. Rebecca has written curriculum for Centennial College's Food Tourism Post Graduate Program, the Bonavista Institute and is part of the team developing a new program at George Brown College launching in 2021. She has contributed chapters the 2nd UNWTO Global Report on Gastronomic Tourism and a chapter on Transforming the Terroir into a Tourist Destination in the Routledge Handbook of Gastronomic Tourism 2019. She is currently working on her Master of Arts in Global Leadership at Royal Roads University.

Ryan Crawford

Executive Chef 


As a former instructor from the Stratford Chefs School, Crawford mentors young chef apprentices in what he has coined: “Integrated Cool Climate Cuisine.”  Crawford’s love of cooking started at a young age at his families B&B.  He has since staged around the world at prestigious restaurants such as the French Laundry, and Eigensinn Farm.  He fell in love with farming 10 years ago with one of his best friend’s, Paul Harber (owner of Ravine Vineyard) when they began raising heritage pigs together.  He combines his love of food, hospitality and farming together at Backhouse where he and his entire team lead guests on a culinary journey of somewhewreness.  The team begins their day at the restaurant’s own farm, gathering the needed ingredients for the ever changing tasting menus.  And when 5 o’clock hits Crawford welcomes all guests and orchestrates the dance of somewhereness.

Scott McLauchlan


Transvaal Farm Guest House

Scott’s professional career highlights include record-setting Sales & Marketing team roles with notable national Sports & Entertainment brands (The Sports Network, World Wrestling Entertainment), creating communications and promotions for diverse private and not-for-profit organizations (Sportsnet, Kelloggs, Running Room, Toronto Human Resources Professional’s Association, Ontario Lung Association, Special Olympics Ontario), and serving his local community in previously elected (Trustee - Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board) and current volunteer Board of Director capacities (Ontario Lung Association; St. Andre Bessette Trust Fund with Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board).  

In 2014, he and his wife, Cindy Taylor, moved from the GTA to St. Marys where they have established an award-winning farm stay experience on their family’s Transvaal Farm (formerly home to C’est Bon artisan goat cheese) and also now operate a successful micro-bakery called Kitchen Smidgen.

Trisha Grant

Vice President, Industry Relations and International Marketing

Destination Ontario

Trisha Grant has been the Vice President of Industry Relations and International Marketing at Destination Ontario since February 2014, playing a key role in strategy development and operations and specifically responsible for collaboration with government and private sector stakeholders across the province and nationally and leading the development and execution of Destination Ontario’s strategy for global marketing. Specific activity includes outreach, partnership and collaborative marketing, earned media relations, campaign development and working internationally with travel companies, all to strategically increase tourism visitation to and within Ontario. 
Prior to her role at Destination Ontario, Trisha held a number of senior positions within Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment including Director, Investment Attraction, and most recently, Director, International Representation, where she managed a network of Ontario representatives in key global centres around the world to raise the profile of Ontario and advance the province’s economic development mandate.
Trisha began her career at the British Consulate-General in Toronto before joining the Government of Ontario in 2003. Since that time, she has held a number of positions related to economic development involving policy, project and program management, export development, investment attraction and regional partnership development. In all her roles, collaboration has been a cornerstone of success.
Trisha received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (Marketing) from the University of Guelph, lives in Toronto and loves spending time outdoors and exploring the province.

Kelly Provost

Economic Development Officer

Niagara Region

Kelly’s primary focus on the Niagara Economic Development team is serving as an economic advisor to 6 of Niagara’s local area municipalities and their businesses. She is also responsible for a variety of projects and special initiatives that encourage economic growth aimed at advancing Niagara’s priority sectors of agri-business and tourism.

Kelly has held a variety of positions in economic development including business start-up services, business growth advising, program administration, project management, and investment attraction. She undertakes activities and fosters partnerships that support the development of Niagara as a choice for investment, trade, enterprise, and growth. 

Prior to joining the Niagara Economic Development team, Kelly spent six years as a consultant with the St. Catharines Small Business Enterprise Centre under the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs. Here she supported and advised hundreds of Niagara’s entrepreneurs on starting, sustaining, and expanding their small and medium-sized businesses.

Kelly has a BA Honours degree from Brock University, a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations from Niagara College, and a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo. Kelly also serves on many boards and committees including Chair of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute’s advisory committee, the board at the Venture Niagara Community Futures Development Corporation, and the Sub-Regional Partners committee at the Tourism Partnership of Niagara. 

Janice Thomson

President & CEO

Niagara Falls Tourism

Janice Thomson has been President & CEO of Niagara Falls Tourism since May 2019. Prior to that, she was President of Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce & VCB for 18 years. Her experience in the business/tourism and hospitality sector  has included serving as Chair of The Niagara Parks Commission (2010-2018), Chair of The Tourism Partnership of Niagara (2014-2016), Board member for the TO2015 Pan and ParaPan AM Games and Commissioner (two years as Chair) of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (2006-2015). Janice continues to serve on the Board of The Tourism Partnership of Niagara, as Vice Chair, and is the current Chair of CAA Niagara.
Janice held senior executive positions within the luxury import automotive sector, over an 18 year career.

Aaron Dobbin

President & CEO

Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario

Aaron Dobbin was appointed as President & CEO of the Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario in January 2017.  The WGAO is committed to increasing the visibility and recognition of the economic and community value of the Ontario grape and wine industry in partnership with all stakeholders.  Over 2.4 million people visit Ontario wineries every year helping make the Ontario grape and wine industry a leading value-added agricultural industry in the province.  Previous to his appointment, Mr. Dobbin held senior positions in both the private and public sector, including Vice President of StrategyCorp, as well as Senior Advisor and Director of Policy and Research in the Office of the Premier of Ontario.  Mr. Dobbin holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, from the University of Guelph, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Windsor and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Victoria.


Beth Potter 

President & CEO

Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

Beth Potter has led the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)—the umbrella trade association for Ontario’s tourism industry—as President and CEO since January 2011. A distinguished member of the tourism community with more than 25 years of experience in the not-for-profit and tourism sectors, Beth has worked with a variety of boards, committees and volunteers across the tourism industry and from all walks of life. She currently serves on the boards for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Advisory Council for the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Ryerson University.

Alexandra Rodgers

Director, Policy & Research 

Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

Alex is the Director of Policy and Research at the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), where she works on key provincial policy issues on behalf of the tourism industry. Alex coordinates the development of government strategies, and policy recommendations on issues ranging from the Municipal Accommodation Tax, the tourism labour gap, and the affordable housing shortage in Ontario. Prior to joining TIAO, Alex worked as a Lead Researcher and Policy Analyst. In these roles Alex authored reports for the Law Foundation of BC, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, on labour migration, access to justice, and the evolution of transnational employment relations within late capitalism. Alex holds a Masters of Sociology and Labour Studies from Simon Fraser University. 

Magdalena Kaiser 

Director, Public Relations

Wine Marketing Association of Ontario (WMAO) 

Magdalena has been in the wine industry almost her entire life. She began working at Inniskillin Wines as a young teen and bottled wine with co-founder and father Karl Kaiser at the age of five. With over 35 years’ experience in wine, culinary tourism and communication strategy both domestically and internationally, she brings passion and expertise to the industry she loves. A lifelong promoter of local wine, she is now the Director of PR at the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario where she proudly showcases VQA Wines of Ontario wine to top media and trade from home and abroad. WSET certified and currently enrolled in the Master of Wine program. 

TIAO is heading to the Niagara Region for the 2020 edition of the Tourism Issues Forum. 

Inn On The Twenty is just five minutes off the highway, a one hour and 15-minute drive from Toronto, and a short distance away from Niagara-on-the-Lake in quaint Jordan, Ontario.

Address: 3845 Main St, Jordan Station, ON L0R 1S0, Canada


Individuals attending the Tourism Issues Forum can receive a preferred rate at Inn On the Twenty. 


Book Reservation Online

  • Book via:
  • Click the "BOOK NOW" tab top right 
  • Click location and select Inn On the Twenty from the drop -down menu 
  • Enter the Group Reservation Number (Group ID): 3283429


Additional Details

  • Reservations need to be made by January 21, 2020 in order to receive the preferred rate 
  • For any questions or to make your reservation over the phone, call: 1-888-669-5566
Ticket Name Sale Ends Price Quantity
In Person Ticket: Non-Member
30 Jan 2020
Sale Ended
In Person Ticket: Student Non-Member
30 Jan 2020
Sale Ended

20 Feb 2020
8:45am - 4:30pm EST

Google Calendar

  • Inn On The Twenty (3845 Main St, Jordan Station, ON L0R 1S0, Canada)

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