Be a Nature-Based Local Tourist this Summer
By Ben Hughes and Anna Shortly
July 28th, 2021
For many of us, tourism has been far from mind over the last year, as we’ve worked through the various waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. But now, as more people get vaccinated and the province continues its reopening plan, many of us are looking for safe, local travel opportunities.
Ontario’s Greenbelt protects over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and other natural heritage features. Its natural and agricultural landscapes have important roles to play in supporting rural economies, especially those based on Tourism and Recreation. Popular rural tourism mainstays like farmer’s markets, award-winning microbreweries, cideries, and wineries, and other agri-food or culinary tourism experiences can all be found in the Greenbelt. You can go on a gorgeous hike, visit a farm-gate to buy fresh, local produce, and relax on a patio with a local craft beer—all in the same day!
It should come as no surprise that Tourism is a key facet of the Greenbelt’s economy; the sector contributes $8.3 billion in GDP to Ontario’s economy and supports over 160,000 jobs.
The Greenbelt Foundation avidly supports nature-based tourism, helping to make it easier for Ontarians to see and experience the natural beauty of the Greenbelt. For example, in the Bruce Peninsula Region you can go on an EcoAdventure hosted by Greenbelt Foundation grantee, Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association. EcoAdventures are unique, guided treks of the Bruce Peninsula, where hikers take in its rugged and beautiful terrain, while learning about its natural history. All the proceeds go directly to the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association to fund local conservation projects. The Foundation also supports agri-tourism projects like Durham Farm Fresh, which offers local agricultural experiences like farm visits.
The Greenbelt Foundation also partners with key organizations that help promote and expand Indigenous-led tourism projects. The Greater Golden Horseshoe is the ancestral and present-day home of a number of First Nations and Indigenous peoples. By installing representations of traditional moccasins on the landscape, the Moccasin Identifier, for example, builds public awareness for the significant cultural and historical sites of local Indigenous and First Nations communities in the Greenbelt area. Helping to amplify Indigenous cultural awareness through Ontario’s tourism industry remains a high priority for the Greenbelt Foundation.
Image Credit: Nadia Molinari
It should come as no surprise that Tourism is a key facet of the Greenbelt’s economy; the sector contributes $8.3 billion in GDP to Ontario’s economy and supports over 160,000 jobs. It provides economic development opportunities for smaller towns and rural communities in and around the Greenbelt, while ensuring that their natural beauty and character is sustained. Businesses in the Greenbelt benefit from having access to a large population base and close proximity to significant tourism destinations, like Toronto and Niagara Falls.
Whether you’re a local resident in the Greater Golden Horseshoe looking for a fun staycation, or visiting from elsewhere, a trip to the Greenbelt allows you to explore and connect with nature, which is documented as having a positive effect on our mental and physical health. So get exploring!
Image Credit: Martin Lortz
And don’t forget to be a good guest while you're here. After all, the Greenbelt is not just a destination, but a thriving, working landscape that is home to many people, animals, bodies of freshwater, and plants. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the codes of conduct for any natural area, farm, or business you plan to visit. These codes include staying on trails, properly disposing of any garbage, and not trespassing onto farms.
To see all the best activities that the Greenbelt has to offer, follow our Tour the Greenbelt campaign on Instagram @ongreenbelt or check out our Explore page at https://www.greenbelt.ca/explore.
Anna Shortly is a Research and Policy Analyst at the Greenbelt Foundation and Benjamin Hughes is the Public Relations Assistant.