Two days after a lively debate about it at the city council, Destination Sherbrooke presented its financial report on Wednesday. The paramunicipal organization has a surplus of $ 127,173 after spending $ 4.6 million.
M ario Grenier, Executive Director and Assistant to the Director General, indicates that these results are similar from year to year. “There were no significant events that would result in exceptional changes to the financial report. Last year, the surplus was $ 80,579.
The main expense comes from salaries and benefits, at $ 2.4 million, and promotion, advertising and training tools, at $ 815,215. As for revenues, those associated with the Fair Center amounted to $ 1.1 million. The City’s contribution is $ 2.7 million.
Director General Denis Bernier recalls that Destination Sherbrooke is a non-profit organization. “We do not have the obligation to make a profit, but we must at least be profitable. What we must look at is the investment of the City of Sherbrooke and, in return, the economic spin-offs and job creation in our territory. We are talking about $ 200 million in economic benefits and about 4,000 tourism jobs. ”
Mr. Bernier reports that Destination Sherbrooke’s performance indicators, namely the number of nights and the number of person visits, have been on the rise for three years.
The Executive Director recognizes that the City of Sherbrooke has been an excellent partner in recognizing the importance of developing tourism through the years. “In the last 15 years, nearly $ 40 million has been invested in capital assets, including approximately $ 30 million by the City of Sherbrooke, which has enabled us to improve the quality of our infrastructure. Can we get more? Of course, but there are also crying needs in every respect and it must be understood as an organization. ”
However, contributions should not be reduced for the next few years. “The tourism industry is growing strongly internationally. By 2030, 3% increase is expected per year. There are more and more requests from international travelers. If we do not want to lose our place, we must continue to invest. One-quarter of job creation and tourism spin-offs for the Eastern Townships occur on the territory of the City of Sherbrooke. ”
At 33 employees, after a rationalization effort of 25% in 2015, Denis Bernier believes that Destination Sherbrooke has done its part. “We would play on the quality of the services we offer if we go down that number. At the fair center, what makes our competitive advantage is the service we give to the promoters. ”
“What we have to look at is the investment of the Ville de Sherbrooke and, in return, the economic spin-offs and job creation on our territory. ”
– Denis Bernier
As for a possible merger of Destination Sherbrooke with other economic development organizations, such as Sherbrooke Innopole, Denis Bernier raises doubts by reminding that the decision does not belong to him. “It’s already been done at the time of the Sherbrooke Economic Development Corporation. It did not work very well. There is a reason why tourism has been dissociated: for reasons of coherence and efficiency. ”
Finally, on Monday, when the financial report was tabled at the municipal council, councilors Pierre Avard and Pierre Tremblay lamented the absence of the director of Destination Sherbrooke. “There was confusion, poor communication between organizations. As we had tabled the activity report earlier, people thought we could simply table the financial report. In the future, we will present all the information at the same time, “says Annie Godbout, president of Destination Sherbrooke.
Godbout wants a clear portrait
L’idée du conseiller Pierre Tremblay de lancer un grand sondage auprès des artisans du milieu touristique pour connaître leur satisfaction à l’égard de Destination Sherbrooke n’est pas bien loin d’une initiative déjà mise en branle par l’organisme paramunicipal. La présidente de Destination Sherbrooke, Annie Godbout, entend lancer une tournée pour recueillir des commentaires sur le terrain.
“We want to have a sounding on the direction of Destination Sherbrooke. I had talked about it on my Facebook page during the winter that I wanted to start this tour both among hoteliers, restaurateurs, attractions, events. It was actually on the table. We will begin this tour to probe the industry. Destination Sherbrooke’s strategic planning dates back to 2011. It is a goal to be up to date for 2018-2022. This tour will serve to enhance strategic planning, “says Ms. Godbout.
“With respect to the suggestion of my colleague Pierre Tremblay, the ball is in the camp of the executive committee and the town hall. They will decide if they want to move forward, but it was in the plans to move forward and we will start this work in the coming weeks. ”
Annie Godbout lamented on Monday the negative speech surrounding Destination Sherbrooke, a speech demoralizing for employees, she warned. In a press briefing on Wednesday, she was quick to point out the good work of these employees. The city councilor had been very critical of Destination Sherbrooke during the last term …
“Yes, I was critical of Destination Sherbrooke in the last term, but I have always been constructive. I brought ideas. It is the mandate that is very broad. I did not blame Destination Sherbrooke, but on the advice that had to have a clearer vision of economic development. I still have the same speech. There are some projects with which I was less comfortable, especially the murals, but I have again underlined this discomfort on the Destination Sherbrooke’s board of directors. I do not have two speeches. We must recognize the work of people. ”
Before determining whether the City is investing enough in tourism, Annie Godbout believes that a portrait of the situation must be drawn up. “You need an analysis of strengths and weaknesses. It’s always a question of mandate and money. What are the expectations of the council? It needs to be further clarified to ensure a better connection. You have to start by owning the organization, the work you do, and then having exchanges. ”