Survey seeks input from Island residents on culinary tourism

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CENTRAL MANITOULIN – Culinary tourism value chain businesses on Mnidoo/Manitoulin Island are being encouraged to participate in a survey to be considered for helping to develop a culinary strategy for the Island.

“We ask that any culinary tourism value chain businesses on Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island that may benefit from this unique opportunity participate in a survey,” said Marcus Mohr, community development/outreach coordinator for Central Manitoulin. “To be considered for the program, we ask that you complete the short anonymous survey by end-of-day January 16, 2022. It should take 8-10 minutes to complete. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to share your contact information if you are interested in attending a culinary tourism workshop in late January/early February.”

The Municipality of Central Manitoulin, in partnership with FedNor, Destination Northern Ontario and Indigenous Tourism Ontario, has engaged the Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA) in developing a culinary tourism strategy for Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island. 

“The municipality and its partners are looking to put together a strategy and action plan with a common set of achievable goals and measurable objectives, as well as identifying new opportunities and assets to increase visitor satisfaction and average length of stay because of enhanced Indigenous and non-Indigenous food and drink experiences,” said Mr. Mohr.

“Basically, this all started with the tourism adaptation strategy that was carried out previously and the thought was to develop a culinary strategy as well, so this was added regionally,” said Mr. Mohr. “And there is a separate component for Manitoulin Island only.”

“The food tourism strategy is expected to provide a roadmap on how to develop quality offerings and services under a ‘Taste of Place’ model,” continued Mr. Mohr. “Culinary offerings would include use of or production of a local product, partnering with another business or offering a culinary experience that includes incorporating local history, legends, or stories about the food of those that traditionally eat it.”  

“Identifying gaps in the food tourism industry operations will allow the region to react and create a better-quality tourism experience, maintaining existing visitation, attracting new visitors and encouraging visitors to stay longer and contribute more to the local economy,” explained Mr. Mohr.

The project takes  a community-based participatory approach, and aims to set the foundation for success by delivering a market research report, including primary research through a stakeholder survey, an immersive workshop building capacity among stakeholders across the culinary tourist value chain, and the establishment of guidelines for the food tourism regional advisory group that will eventually be  charged with carrying out the strategy. Preliminary stakeholder interest in participation in contributing to the strategy and its success, will also be examined and there is provision for an experience pilot program with dedicated support for up to six business. As well, it will produce a culinary tourism strategy and implementation plan for Manitoulin Island/Mnidoo Mnissing.

“As part of the strategy development process, we are gathering insight on Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island’s current culinary tourism context,” said Mr. Mohr. 

From those businesses who show engagement in the process and demonstrate high potential, up to six businesses will be selected to receive dedicated support from the CTA to develop a new food and beverage experience over the course of the program which will run from January to May 2022.