October 31, 2019
Oh cheese! Tourism Oxford wins big at the Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence
Tourism Oxford took the cheese last night at the 2019 Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence taking home the award for “Culinary Tourism Event of the Year” for “Big Cheese Days,” part of the Oxford County Cheese Trail. Additionally, Tourism Oxford also took home the “Sustainable Tourism Award” for a large organization, which recognizes an organization, individual or initiative that has made a viable and maintainable contribution to the practice and promotion of sustainable tourism.
The “Culinary Tourism Event of the Year” award that recognized the “Big Cheese Days” is awarded by the Culinary Tourism Alliance. The category recognizes “Ontario-based festivals or events that demonstrate commitment to showcasing local food and drink.” Some key points about Big Cheese Days are:
- “Big Cheese Days” was created as a kickoff event for the Oxford County Cheese Trail as a new tourism product. For this event, trail stops added special events, behind-the-scene tours and experiences for visitors to come and celebrate cheese and dairy in addition to their year-round offerings. The name was chosen to recognize the important role the mammoth cheese had in originally developing Oxford as a cheese capital. The event was so popular it was repeated for 3 years, happening every Saturday in May.
- In 2018 there were over 5,600visitors to “Big Cheese Days” stops with 870 enjoying limited-time tours and experiences. 65% of participants travelled 40+ KM to attend the event and it received high satisfaction ratings from participants. A spin-off benefit of this event was many special activities offered for “Big Cheese Days” are now offered on a more regular basis by cheese trail stops.
- This award speaks to the power of partnerships, as over 25 partners comprise the Oxford County Cheese Trail who commit to celebrating and offering unique tastes, tours and experiences for visitors. Their support is what make the Cheese Trail and Big Cheese Days a success on a year-round basis.
The “Sustainable Tourism Award” is a testament to Tourism Oxford’s efforts to educate consumers about green travel in Oxford County, and the development of more green tourism products including a trails and outdoors map, cycling routes and promotion of local food. Tourism Oxford always works to align itself with Oxford County’s sustainability initiatives like zero waste, partnering with Future Oxford and Transition to Less Waste to provide workshops on waste reduction at events.
Tourism Oxford also had ties to two other award winners at last night’s ceremony. Local business, Ottercreek Woodworks took home the “Culinary Experience of the Year” award for its Tree to Table Experience, which was originally created for Big Cheese Days. Additionally, travel blogger Arienne Parzei of seeyousoon.ca received the “Travel Media Award” for her “Culinary Trails of Southwestern Ontario” video series that featured the Oxford County Cheese Trail.