New tourism prez says more can be done to lure visitors

Mary Jean O’Donnell

Troy Shantz

The new president of the board at Tourism Sarnia Lambton says eco-friendly travel and “authentic experiences” are part of her vision for the agency.

“Among Millennials… you can’t do anything that’s not environmental because they won’t buy it, they won’t do it,” said Mary Jean O’Donnell.

“There’s no reason at all why that doesn’t translate to Sarnia.”

O’Donnell, TSL’s treasurer of the past three years, is the founder of MJ Waste Solutions, a consultancy firm that helps clients searching for better environmental stewardship and efficiencies.

Tourism Sarnia Lambton is a county-funded agency that promotes and supports what O’Donnell calls “tourism products.”

Think Bluewater Granfondo, Bluewater Borderfest, Artwalk and other events that draw visitors to Sarnia-Lambton.

She hinted a new ‘beer and wine trail’ might soon be added to the list.

O’Donnell said first on her agenda is developing a new strategic plan and recruiting an executive director.

An avid traveller herself, she said the county has already laid the groundwork for more tourism.

“The Blue Flag Beaches are a great example of that,” she said, noting three of the 25 beaches that meet the stringent certification are located in Sarnia-Lambton.

TSL recently began promoting Lambton County as ‘Ontario’s Blue Coast’ to highlight its beaches, watersports and local amenities near the Lake Huron shoreline.

“The (Chemical) Valley has always done us good, and always will. That said, the tourism piece is an area where we certainly have room to grow,” O’Donnell said.