An upbeat, cautiously optimistic mood prevailed at the 10th Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) held June 3 at the Hockley Valley Resort & Convention Centre, Orangeville, ON. Led by outgoing Chair Stanley Goodman, Great Restaurant Services Inc./Windemere House, Muskoka, ON, the attendees at the fast-paced general meeting and the subsequent Board of Directors dinner exhibited quiet confidence on recent accomplishments and a positive outlook for the future for both the ORHMA and the hospitality industry in Ontario. The event was also highlighted by the presence of The Honourable Monique Smith, Ontario Minister of Tourism.
ORHMA President and CEO, Tony Elenis, set the tone with a report focused on “competitiveness, the new key word in tourism management and marketing.” He pointed out that tourism is now a global phenomenon with “customers and competitors just about everywhere…through new technologies being able to access key destination information with a touch of their fingertips over the internet,” as outlined in the recent study, Discovering Ontario: A report on the future of tourism The study provides a 10-year plan to boost tourism by marketing Ontario as one of the world’s best places to visit, built around four strategic and 20 specific recommendations to revitalize and grow tourism in the province. Elenis discussed “constructive” consultations between ORHMA and the Ministry. These included public and private investment in tourism infrastructure, the removal of regulatory and administrative/paper work demands that impede operators — particularly the smaller firms — and working with the Federal government to reduce landing fees at Toronto International Airport (“the most expensive airport in the world”), and border security issues with the U.S.
Minister Smith, who also serves as the government House Leader, highlighted the importance of “Staycations” with Ontarians and Canadians travelling within their own province or country rather than vacationing abroad. She also had a spirited presentation on the importance of “harmonization” of Federal and Ontario sales taxes to the economy, which she acknowledged has been challenged in private and public by the hospitality industry.
Newly elected ORHMA Chair David Blades, Days Inn Canada/Realstar Hospitality, Toronto, ON, admitted, “We’ve been facing uncharted waters for many months, but under the leadership of our Board and President Elenis, we have become focused, more creative and our membership is more committed to our goals than ever.” He added, “We’re building ORHMA as a brand, we’ve enhanced the value of membership and we have incredible new programs about to be launched. Our training and educations goals are working and in place and our government relations partnerships to promote and foster tourism are stronger than ever.” Newly elected members of the Executive Committee of ORHMA are: David Blades, Chair; Stanley Goodman, Past Chair; Michael Doyle, Vice-Chair; Al Richards, Secretary-Treasurer; Peter Wilson, Chair of Regional Presidents; Sherry MacLauchlan, Director-at-Large; Darren Sim, Director-at-Large; Tony Elenis, President and CEO, Ex-officio. For a complete list of all new Board of Directors members and officers.