Tony Baldinelli’s tourism expertise has been recognized by the new leader of the federal Conservative Party, and will be put to good use.
Baldinelli, MP for the Niagara Falls riding, which includes Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie, has been named a member of the shadow cabinet and special advisor on tourism recovery by Erin O’Toole, the recently-elected leader of the federal Conservatives, replacing Andrew Scheer.
Baldinelli says he is “honoured and excited” to be presented with the opportunity to work toward rebuilding the tourism sector, devastated by the pandemic, not just in Niagara, but across the country.
He has had 18 years of experience in tourism with the Niagara Parks Commission, and recognizes its significance as an “economic driver,” he says. His party has been pushing for a recovery plan since March, and with Parliament returning Sept 23, he is anxious to “getting down to work,” which will include talking to stakeholders across the country and soliciting their ideas for rebuilding tourism.
He started working for the parks commission just months before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he says, so he has had experience with that recovery period, which led to 2019 being probably the best year ever for the Niagara tourism industry. It was a slow process, but it worked, he says.
Eduardo Lafforgue, president of the NOTL Chamber of Commerce, says it is “fantastic” that the MP from Niagara will be working toward tourism recovery on a federal level. “We have representatives for the Town on both sides (Liberal and Conservative) keeping an eye on tourism in Niagara now. It can only be good.”
Lafforgue, who continues to stress the importance of collaboration for successful tourism recovery, adds, “one way or another, our voice should be heard.”