Consider a Career In Tourism 

When plotting your career path, tourism doesn’t always make the list of dream jobs. There are many negative myths about working in the tourism industry that we’d like to dispel. You’ll hear that tourism is only for travel agents and flight attendants, that the jobs pay poorly and the hours are terrible, that you’ll never move beyond the front desk, that tourism jobs require no skills and are ultimately dead ends with no opportunity for advancement. 
 
In reality, the tourism industry was worth $8.9 trillion U.S. dollars in 2019. This is a powerhouse industry with jobs ranging from high to low skills, with positions varying from the front lines to executive posts. It’s an industry that tends to recognize hard work and promote from within. If you’re motivated, focused and enthusiastic, a career in tourism can take you some amazing places. This is a huge industry with careers around the world. Why not give it a try? 
 
In our region, as of 2019, the tourism industry was worth approximately $1.6B. There are jobs across the region from entry to executive levels.  There are videographers, marketers, hoteliers, accountants, lawyers, engineers, baristas and administrators. Sometimes, tourism is their first career, sometimes it’s their third, sometimes it’s their first foray into entrepreneurship.
 
This page seeks to introduce you to some of the people working in the tourism industry right here in BruceGreySimcoe.  They come from different backgrounds, bring different skillsets, have different educational backgrounds and have ultimately wound up in very different jobs. Listen to their stories, open up your mind and add the tourism industry to your list of options. We’re sure you can find a great career right here!
 

The faces of tourism in BruceGreySimcoe 


Chef Zach Keeshig 


Careers in Tourism: Zach Keeshig, ChefIndigenous chef Zach Keeshig has become one of the region’s most celebrated chefs. But his path to this tourism career began while Keeshig was doing his co-op to become a plumber. “I started working in a local restaurant in addition to my co-op to make some money and I fell in love with the artistic side of food,” says Keeshig. Like many in the restaurant industry, Keeshig began on the line in a mainstream restaurant but soon gravitated towards higher end food experiences. He attended the Georgian College Culinary Program before working with Chef Tim Johnson at Cobble Beach, at Langdon Hall and alongside reknowned chef Michael Stadtlander before shifting his focus to his own enterprise—Nagaan Progressive Indigenous Cuisine.

Today, Keeshig serves his progressive aboriginal cuisine as a tasting menu to intimate groups at the Owen Sound Farmer’s Market or in customers' own homes. His story and his background are a key part of this culinary experience. Art has a real place in my food,” explains Keeshig. “Not many people around here are doing this stuff and I wanted to bring some of the philosophies I’ve learned from different chefs back home to this area. I want to turn Nagaan into a culinary destination.” Keeshig is brave enough to spell out his goals as his business grows: “I have aspirations to be one of the first Indigenous chefs on Canada’s top 100 list.” 
 
Education:  Georgian College Culinary Program 
First Tourism Job:  Line cook in a local restaurant 
Current Job:  Head chef at Nagaan Progressive Aboriginal Cuisine experience 
Years in the Tourism Industry: 15
Career myth: Tourism jobs don’t have flexibility 
Why would you recommend this path to someone?
You definitely can move up but you have to put the work in. This is not a career you can step in and out of. It’s rewarding if you’re dedicated, but you have to stick with it, take a lot of training. You have to have passion and dedication.

 



 

Robyn Hewitt 

Program Assistant for Regional Tourism Organization 7 
 
Careers in Tourism: Robyn Hewitt, Program Assistant at RTO7Midland’s Robyn Hewitt has taken a winding road through the tourism and hospitality industry to her current position as the Program Assistant for RTO7. Her first tourism jobs were at a golf course in Midland and as a server at a local harbourfront restaurant. Later she completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Hospitality and Tourism at Ryerson University. After graduation, Hewitt worked for Real Star Hospitality and later worked her way up in the Sales and Marketing department at Marriott Hotels, working on site at the Courtyard Marriott in Toronto.

With the pandemic changing the hotel landscape and with a young family to consider, Hewitt and her family made the move back to her hometown. Soon after, she began her remote position with RTO7. “The nice thing about working for a small organization is there’s always opportunity to learn and grow,” says Hewitt. “I really enjoy encouraging people to have travel adventures and get out of their backyards to experience different destinations.” 
 
Education:  Ryerson University, Bachelor of Commerce in Hospitality and Tourism Management 
First Tourism Job:  Golf course in Midland and serving at a waterfront restaurant there
Current Job:  Program Assistant for RTO7/BruceGreySimcoe
Years in the Tourism Industry: 21
Career Myth: You can’t go from the frontline to a career in tourism 
Why would you recommend this path to someone?
You can bring your experience back to your hometown and enjoy the option to work remotely—which adds up to more flexibility and more family time.




Brendan Matheson

Experience Development Coordinator, County of Simcoe

Careers in Tourism: Brendan Matheson, Experience Development Coordinator, County of SimcoeAs a cyclist and a skier, Brendan Matheson has truly taken his lifestyle and turned it into a challenging and satisfying career in the tourism industry. Matheson started on the front lines of the industry, working as both a ski instructor at Mount St. Louis Moonstone and a mountain bike instructor at Hardwood Ski and Bike. After a slew of other tourism jobs across Canada and a return to school for a college diploma in marketing, Brendan returned to Simcoe County and landed a job with The County of Simcoe as a Product Development Coordinator. What does that mean? It means Matheson is tasked with developing new products and experiences for visitors to Simcoe County, largely in outdoor settings while working closely with local tourism businesses and operators. “My current goal is to bring jobs and income to the very same businesses I once worked the front line at,” laughs Matheson. “I’ve truly come full circle. I had my very first job at Mount St Louis Moonstone and now I’m meeting with them in my current role to see how we can best support them.” 
 


Education:  College marketing diploma 
First Tourism Job:  Ski instructor at Mount St Louis Moonstone and mountain bike coach at Hardwood Ski and Bike 
Current Job:  Product Development Coordinator at Simcoe County
Years in the Tourism Industry: 20
Career Myth: You can’t turn your passion into a job
Why would you recommend this path to someone: 
Because I’ve been able to take my lifestyle and turn it into a job.
 

 



Matt Konings

Manager of Parks and Events, Horseshoe Resort


Careers in Tourism: Matt Konings, Manager of Parks and Events, Horseshoe ResortLike many aspiring pro snowboarders and skiers, Matt Konings gravitated towards a job at his local ski resort while competing in high level events. Balancing his time between a local snowboard shop, working at the terrain park at a ski resort and competing, Konings hit a point where he had to make a choice. “I hit the point in my competitive career where I had a choice to make,” recalls Konings. “To move out west, chase sponsors and try to go pro or to continue to work in the industry I love as a rider and a builder and focus on creating a great product for the riders coming up.” Luckily for Konings, some professional mentors saw potential in him along the way and encouraged his employer to invest in his skill development. The result has led Konings to a position at Horseshoe Resort as the Manager of Parks and Events for both the ski and snowboard season and the mountain bike season. “I think if you’re passionate about the snow industry or the summer resort industry, it’s a great way to build a career,” says Konings. “It’s a self-taught career and in turn, you have to help guide the next generation. Give them the freedom to grow and creativity to help them evolve. Their creativity is what will help them succeed. As I grow more into my positions, doing budgets and high-level tasks, you have to train the next guys and I’m always willing to do that.” 
 
Education: High school and ongoing professional mentorship 
First Tourism Job: Snowboard shop and terrain park staff
Current Job: Manager of Park and Events at Horseshoe Resort
Years in the Tourism Industry: 20 plus
Myth Busted: Tourism jobs are only seasonal 
Why would you recommend this path to someone: 
I have the best of both worlds now—I still get to ride bikes and snowboard every day but I have a steady income. I have busy, crazy days but at the end of the day if I’m able to get out for a few runs, it makes it all worthwhile.
 


 


Sarah Beveridge

Owner, Artist and Curator at Blue Thornbury

Careers in Tourism: Sarah Beveridge, Artist and Curator at Blue Thornbury
Sarah Beveridge is an artist and a visionary who runs Blue Thornbury - a creative and contemporary studio space that brings together art and cycling on the main street of town. Beveridge and her husband Chris Carvallo moved to the region for it's endless opportunities in both the cultural and outdoor activity sectors. "There’s so much opportunity right now in terms of tourism for people to go out on their own, connect with the community, see what’s missing and if you have a love or a passion, you can make it work," says Beverage. "It’s an exciting time for bridges between arts and culture that in turn build tourism. It’s not necessarily that you’re going to get a job, it’s that you’re going to create one."

After their 2 year anniversary of Blue Thornbury this year, Sarah and her family are happy with the relationships they've built and are eager to build more relationships as they launch the Blue Thornbury cycling tours. "The shop features about 8 fine artists on the gallery walls and more local artisans in the shop portion. We're excited about relationships and partnerships we've made in such a short time."
 

Education:  Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of Windsor
First Tourism Job:  Managing and curating gallery spaces in Toronto
Current Job:  Owner, Artist and Curator at Blue Thornbury
Years in the Tourism Industry: 20 plus
Career Myth: As an artist, there’s no real career path in tourism
Why would you recommend this path to someone?
There’s so much opportunity right now in terms of tourism for people to go out on their own, connect with the community, see what’s missing and if you have a love or a passion, make it work.

 


Jennifer Swan

Massage Therapist Manager, Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain

Careers in Tourism: Jennifer Swan, Massage Therapist Manager at Scandinave Spa Blue MountainWhen Jennifer Swan started working at Scandinave Spa as a guest service agent, she never imagined that she’d one day be the massage therapist manager there. She took that frontline position while finishing her school to become a registered massage therapist but soon learned that the tourism industry and the spa were both things she enjoyed. “Tourism was never something that I expected to stay in but the more I worked here the more I realized that I really enjoyed my days, the people and the environment,” explained Swan. 
 
Swan worked as an RMT at Scandinave (after her front desk job) and when the massage therapist position opened, Swan applied and drawing on her previous management experience, was quickly hired. “I never had big expectations of moving up here, but doors opened, and I walked right through them. The opportunities are there if you want to take them. There are lots of places you can use your past experience as a mature person entering the tourism industry as a second career,” said Swan. 
 
Education: Registered Massage Therapist, Business Administration Degree 
First Tourism Job: Guest service agent at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain 
Current Job:  Massage therapist manager at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain 
Years in the Tourism Industry: 12 
Why would you recommend this path to someone: Because you can advance from the front line to a higher-level job 

 




 


Pooja Soni

Supervisor at Agema Works

Careers in Tourism: Pooji Soni, Supervisor at Agema Works
Pooja Soni began her career in finance in her home country of India, but she’d always had a passion for tourism. She worked as a tour coordinator for a travel agency in India before moving to Canada to earn her Diploma of Tourism at Georgian College. While at Georgian, Pooja began working as a Co-op student for Agema Works—a business that helps fill hiring gaps for employers in the tourism industry while giving employees a chance to gain more experience across the industry. After graduation, Soni become a supervisor at Agema Works where she currently leads a team in housekeeping at the Grand Georgian at Blue Mountain Resort. “Tourism isn’t just about flight attendants and travel agents,” says Soni. “There are lots of opportunities within the industry for people who want to work hard and move up quickly.”

 


Education:  Diploma of Tourism at Georgian College 
First Tourism Job:  Worked as a tour coordinator in India at travel agency
Current Job:  Supervisor at Agema Works 
Why would you recommend this path to someone: Customer service and the opportunity to meet and grow with people if you give 100% dedication.  There are so many opportunities to grow and diversify, for example the opportunity to learn different languages.  If English isn’t your first language, that’s a huge benefit due to the diverse customer base here. 


 




Caley Doran

Owner and Guide at Take-A-Hike Trail Guides

Careers in Tourism: Pooji Soni, Supervisor at Agema WorksAfter working for many years in the food and beverage industry from Alberta to Ontario, Caley Doran realized that he was spending all his free time hiking on local trails. Planning around his long hours at restaurants, Doran realized there was an opportunity to turn his passion for hiking into a career as a local guide. That’s how Take-a-Hike Trail Guide was born. “I wanted to do my own thing and do what I love,” explains Doran. “In our area, I think there’s room to have 12 months of tourism and I’m still trying to find momentum and balance within the seasons.” Doran loves to try and find the right trail for his groups and loves to share his connection with the land with those on his hikes. “It’s about sustainability and conservation and how can I inspire people to follow that path,” says Doran. “After the last few years of lockdowns, there’s nothing better than being outside in nature. Anyone can hike without me but I like to think I bring an emotional experience as I’m hiking the path of my ancestors.” His hikes always contain a culinary element, allowing Doran to incorporate his past restaurant experience into this current career.

Education: Food and beverage management
First Tourism Job: Moxie’s Restaurant
Current Job: Take-a-Hike Trail Guide, owner and guide
Why would you recommend this path to someone?
I wanted to do my own thing and do what I love. Owning your own business is really exciting–it’s kind of scary but also really rewarding

 



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