Who Are We?
RTO4 is one of 13, self-governed destination development organizations within the Province of Ontario who receive funding from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport. RTO4’s territory covers the area of Huron, Perth and Wellington Counties and Waterloo Region.

Our vision at RTO4 is to provide exceptional and innovative regional tourism development that empowers communities through advocacy and engagement with different partners in the tourism industry and we strive to improve the quality of life of residents through the economic benefits of tourism. We believe that great places to live are great places to visit. You can find out more about us on our website at www.rto4.ca

Previous Research
In previous years, the University of Waterloo had completed two phases of introductory research. They held interviews, speaking with a small group of residents and business owners regarding their sense of place within the Village. Sense of place is a term used to describe how an individual understands their experience of a place or environment.

RTO4 partnered with UW to complete another phase of research in the Fall of 2022, bringing in internationally recognized consultants Clarity of Place to lend their expertise and facilitate two sets of community workshops and a digital workbook.
Through this community consultation these were the top 5 themes identified as concerns affecting the community’s future:
1.     Business interests being valued over resident concerns
2.     Residents feeling unheard or left out of the process of development
3.     Fear of losing St. Jacobs unique character
4.     Growth and Congestion
5.     Climate threats and environmental degradation

What’s Next?
This resident survey is the next step in addressing the concerns that residents were feeling left out of the process of community development and that there was a lack of communication to the residents from the tourism industry within St. Jacobs. We hope to be able to engage a large number of residents through this effort and also collect the contact information for residents interested in being further involved.

Our objectives for collecting this survey data are:
     1.     To understand a greater number of residents’ sentiments towards the tourism industry within the St. Jacobs Village.
     2.     To get a better sense of the avenues residents use to access information to do with tourism and community development.
     3.     To recognize residents’ visions for harnessing the economic benefits of tourism for opportunities to benefit the community.

Following the collection and analysis of this data, the key messaging will be shared with destination development partners to understand residents’ sentiments and visions for St Jacobs Village. We will also hold a community meeting in the Village to share the findings in the Fall and discuss some of the next steps on how the information will be used.

Lastly, we want to take a moment to highlight the different partners we work with on destination development projects:
     –   The Residents and Community Groups of the St. Jacobs Village,
     –   Local Tourism Businesses,
     –   The St. Jacobs Village Business Improvement Association or BIA,
     –   The Township of Woolwich,
     –   Explore Waterloo Region, the local, Destination Marketing Organization

If you’d like to get more information on previous rounds of research please check out the webpage here. And if you have any further questions please contact me via email at tristin@rto4.ca

Thank you and we look forward to hearing your feedback!

You can take the survey below or visit this link if you would prefer to use a different window.

We understand that the ‘lingo’ used in our industry may be terms that people define differently. While in the survey, if you are wondering what something means, check out how we define some of the common terms used:

The Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport sets its benchmark for a tourist as someone travelling from 40km. However, within Waterloo Region we have many people travelling within 40km to visit destinations outside of their usual environment.

Tourism ultimately refers to the temporary movement of individuals or groups of people travelling to places outside of their usual environment for leisure, recreation, business, or other purposes.

A broad and inclusive term to describe anyone who is not a permanent resident of a particular destination and who travels to spend time in a place other than their usual environment.  Visitors are individuals who are temporarily away from their usual place of residence or work and are in a destination for a limited period. There are different types of visitors: business travellers, students, visiting friends and family, leisure travellers, etc.

Refers to the activities, services, and businesses that are used by tourists in a specific region. It encompasses the various ways in which tourism-related spending and revenue contribute to the overall economic well-being of a destination.

Directly, tourists impact the local economy by spending money that contributes to a number of different sectors within a destination including accommodation, transportation, food and beverage, retail, and entertainment to name a few. Indirectly, those businesses that directly interact with tourists buy from local producers and suppliers continue to circulate the tourist dollars in the community.

At its best, through local employment, small business development, expenditure on local goods and services, and development of public services and infrastructure development, the money spent by tourists can have a positive impact on the community.

Refers to the process of enhancing and improving a specific location or area to attract tourists and visitors. The goal of destination development is to maximize the economic, social, and environmental benefits that tourism can bring while minimizing the negative impacts on the community.  It involves planning, implementing, and managing various initiatives to create a destination that offers unique and appealing experiences to travellers that also benefit the local community.

Key Aspects of Destination Development Include:

Community Engagement: Involving and empowering local communities in the development process to ensure that they have a say in shaping tourism and benefit directly from its outcomes.

Hygiene First/Infrastructure Improvements: ‘fix the things that are broken’ as to deliver a high-quality service and experience to the resident and the visitor. For example: transportation systems, signage and wayfinding, clean digital presence, etc.

Sustainability Initiatives: integrating sustainable practices to ensure that tourism development does not harm the environment, culture, or local communities, and instead benefits them in the long run. Tourism can be utilized as a way to safeguard and promote cultural heritage and traditions and natural resources of the destination to maintain its authenticity and appeal.

Tourism Product Diversification and Marketing/Promotion: Work to develop a range of activities and offerings that appeal to visitors that highlight the uniqueness of the destination they are visiting. These offerings should also benefit the residents whether through an activity they would use or an experience that preserves their unique cultural character.

Destination development is an ongoing and collaborative effort that involves the participation of various partners, including different levels of government, local communities, private businesses, and local community groups. The successful development of a destination can lead to job opportunities, and economic growth, contributing to the overall well-being of the area and its inhabitants.

Learn More About Our Partners in Destination Development:

The St. Jacobs Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an organization that is working toward ensuring a bright and prosperous future for the Village of St. Jacobs. The BIA is made up made up of businesses within a geographic catchment area that is set by Woolwich Township. The priorities and day-to-day activities are set and managed by a 10 member Board of Management, that includes an executive committee (Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary) along with a Ward Councillor from Woolwich Township, and the support of a part-time program manager and a part-time marketing and events manager.  Within the BIA, there are Marketing, Beautification, and Events Sub-Committees.  To learn more visit: www.stjacobsvillage.com

Founded in 2007, Explore Waterloo Region (EWR) is the recognized Destination Marketing Organization for the Region of Waterloo. EWR is a nonprofit marketing and image development organization with extensive knowledge on the development of destination profiling, awareness building programs and strategic partnerships. To learn more visit: www.explorewaterloo.ca 

The Township of Woolwich is a rural township in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. It is part of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, immediately to the north and east of the City of Waterloo. It is bounded by the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge.

The Township of Woolwich was established in its present configuration by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Act 1972, which created a regional government structure and established limits of the local municipalities in Waterloo area effective January 1, 1973. Woolwich Township is made up of 10 small communities and has a population of 26,000.

The township’s three largest settlements are Elmira, St. Jacobs (home base for the national Home Hardware chain), and Breslau, where the Region of Waterloo International Airport is located.

With Woolwich’s substantial population of Old Order Mennonite families, it is also not unusual to see horse-drawn buggies and farm equipment alongside suburban vehicles.

To learn more visit: www.woolwich.ca

Learn More About Previous Research Projects in St. Jacobs Village