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 


Indigenous 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 
 
Midland’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

As 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

Like 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

Blue-Thornbury-thumb-6.jpg
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.

 

                                                                                                                                                    

Useful Links: