SAULT STE. MARIE—Shannon McMullan, curator at Perivale Gallery, was named Tourism Innovator of the Year at the 2018 Northern Ontario Tourism Summit in Sault Ste. Marie last week. Ms. McMullan was acknowledged among her peers for her work in making the gallery a premier destination for its show ‘In the Spirit of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven’ as well as her many art workshop offerings.
“Not only are we an art gallery, we have created a show with a specific focus of drawing tourism to Manitoulin thereby benefitting other businesses peripherally,” Ms. McMullan said when contacted for a comment Monday.
Because of Perivale’s In the Spirit of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven show, Ms. McMullan was invited to sit on a Group of Seven Product Team for Northern Ontario Tourism, now called Destination Northern Ontario.
Perivale Gallery has also hosted a highly successful season of art workshops each summer for the past six years. Six years on, Ms. McMullan has amassed an email following of 800 people interested in the goings ons at Perivale.
“We attract people from all over the province,” she added.
Ms. McMullan said there was a contingent of Islanders at the summit this year, including Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates, Wikwemikong Tourism, the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands and the Manitoulin Tourism Association. The total number of Summit participants numbered around 300.
“Because it’s an island, as long as we work together to promote Manitoulin as a whole, we all benefit,” she said. “Once they’re here, they will find us. Let’s get them here. If you provide an excellent product, they will come.”
Ms. McMullan said the annual Tourism Summit provides an excellent opportunity to meet people from across the North and take in workshops that encourage all tourism stakeholders to provide excellence in all the various offerings. “Every detail you do to better the experience of your customers leads to a better experience for everyone,” she added.
Manitoulin Tourism Association Director of Tourism Shelba Millette has been named to the Destination Northern Ontario board of directors. Ms. Millette told The Expositor there was a large focus on information technology in tourism at the Summit. While she agrees that embracing new technologies is critical for tourism, she believes there is a balancing act that needs to be achieved for Manitoulin as, after all, many people come to the Island to escape the hustle and bustle of their daily lives—technology and all.
Maja Mielonen, Guy Nielen and Sandy Cook all attended the Summit representing the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates. Ms. Mielonen commended Kevin Eshkawkogan of Little Current, president and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario, for his presentation to the attendees.
Ms. Mielonen echoed Ms. McMullan’s sentiments that the Tourism Summit provides an excellent opportunity to network, also giving a plug to an offshoot organization, Tourism Excellence North, of which she is a part. Ms. Mielonen recommended visiting its website, tourismexcellencenorth.com, and checking out the many free tools available for tourism operators.
“It’s always inspiring to see the industry come together to learn and share with one another,” said David MacLachlan, executive director, Destination Northern Ontario. “The collaboration, training, learning and networking that occurs at the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit assists in the forward progression and success of the tourism industry in the North. We had a great year in terms of tourism in Northern Ontario and are excited to see what the next year brings.”