One of the most controversial bits from last year's budget deliberations was the decision to see if city hall could farm out tourism services to a community partner, and take it off the hands of city staff. At September 17th's Community and Social Services Committee meeting, staff will recommend that city hall continue to operate tourism services while conducting a review of operations. Let that non-surprise sink in for a moment.
It always seemed bizarre that of all the city services to shake free of government support, the city would choose tourism, and say, "Hey, anyone want to manage the hugely important folio responsible for bringing a lot of money into Guelph." Similarly, it's not that surprising that city hall only received two tenders for the job, as they were practically begging for submissions all year, and it's also not that surprising that those submissions didn't measure up.
Of course, none of that's to say that city hall shouldn't try to find efficiencies, and, if necessary, privatize a city service if it can be provided by a business or community member in a more economical way. Still, considering that tourism depends on the participation of so many groups across so many different sectors, it just makes sense to keep inside city hall, doesn't it? We'll see if city staff reach the same conclusion.
Here's the city press release:
Guelph, ON, Friday, September 6 – On September 17, Guelph’s Community and Social Services Committee will receive a report recommending the City continue tourism services while reviewing the department’s programs and operations.
Earlier this year, the City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a community partner to take over the management of the tourism services currently provided by the City of Guelph. The City received two proposals, and determined that neither met the City’s needs for tourism programs and services.
David Peacock, CEO of Regional Tourism Organization Four, helped the City develop the RFP. Peacock and members of Guelph’s Culture and Tourism and Finance departments evaluated the submissions. “I support the recommendation of the evaluation committee,” said Peacock. “Guelph is a vibrant and important tourism player in the region, and a full operational review would allow us to assess the long term needs and sustainability of tourism services in Guelph.”
“The City plans to continue exploring innovative ways to deliver tourism services to find the best model to grow this important part of our local economic future,” said Colleen Clack, acting executive director of Community and Social Services.
Under the City’s procurement policy, and as part of the competitive bidding process, the information included in each proposal is considered proprietary/confidential and will not be published by the City.
CSS-ED-1336 Tourism Services RFP Update