Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Share Your Winter Shots with has been producing a ton of great stories and pictures that will be featured in our upcoming 2009 tourism marketing campaigns.

This is your chance to share your winter photos, stories and videos with us. We want to see your favorite Thunder Bay winter experiences and hear about what makes Thunder Bay a special place in the winter for you!

Simply click on to upload your pics, stories and video clips.

Also, visit on Facebook to see more great stories and photos posted.

Read what Wander Woman writes about Thunder Bay

After a record breaking year for attracting travel media to the City of Thunder Bay, we're starting to see some great stories roll out.

Suzanne Wright, a freelance journalist out of Atlanta, GA, paid us a visit this past July and had an absolute blast. For us, it was fantastic to bear witness to her first impressions of Thunder Bay, as our community partners rolled out pleasant surprise after pleasant surprise for her to absorb.

Read what Suzanne had to say here.

To read more about Suzanne's global travels, go to

Tourism Thunder Bay holiday Hours

Its hard to believe, given a great year of tourism accomplishments, but even we stop to rest once in a while.

Tourism Thunder Bay's Administration Centre, located at the Pool Six lands in Marina Park, will be closed from noon December 24th and reopening at 8:30 am, Monday January 5th, 2009.

Hours for the Terry Fox Visitor Center are:
December 24th - closed at noon
December 25th - closed
December 26th - closed
December 27th-30th - open regular hours 9-5
December 31 - closed at noon
January 1, 2009 - closed
January 2nd, 2009 - closed
January 3rd, 2009 - resumption of normal 9-5 daily hours.
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and we'll see you again in 2009.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thunder Bay's Japanese Profile

Tourism Thunder Bay welcomed a record number of travel media from around the globe this past year and the results are starting to roll out with print and digital media profiles emerging in key geographical and experience seeking segments.

One of the most unique travel media experiences we hosted this year was four from Japan, who work for Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership's Japanese market office. While in Thunder Bay, we rolled out the red carpet for them, exposing them to Sleeping Giant Park, Sailing Charters on Lake Superior, iconic local culinary experiences and a tour of fort William Historical Park.

The result is a profile on the Japanese OTMPC site:

The Asian market in general has shown promising growth for the city and region as a future area of focus with a number of trans Canada motorcoach tour itineraries through the city in 2008. The overseas market now represents 6% of visitors to the city, double from 2005 and while the numbers are small, the spending, per person is greater than a domestic or U.S. Visitor with an estimated annual contribution of approximately $1.8 million to the local tourism economy.

In addition, Thunder Bay's unique location and surrounding wilderness are a good product fit with the experiences that the emerging new Japanese markets are seeking. Having already seen Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, travellers who have fallen in love with Canada are now looking for smaller communities to visit and explore.

2009 Great Ontario Outdoor Adventure Calandars are Out!

Tourism Thundeer Bay is once again, excited to work with the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation to help promote the great outdoor landscapes that attract visitors to our city and region from around the globe.

From December 15th, complimentary copies of the 2009 Ontario Tourism's "Great Ontario Outdoor Adventure" calandars are available to the public at the Terry Fox Visitor Center as well as our Tourism Administration Centre located at Pool Six in Marina Park.

These full colour calandars depict stunning photography from Provincial Parks across Ontario, including local and regional pics from the Slate Islands, Gull River and Candy Mountain.

SKAL Thunder Bay Elects New President

Tourism Thunder Bay and SKAL Canada are working closer than ever before and effective January 2009, Paul Pepe, Manager of Tourism Thunder Bay will assume the role of President of the Thunder Bay chapter.

SKAL is an international association of travel and tourism professionals with 17 Chapters across Canada. The Thunder Bay chapter, active since 1981, is currently comprised of 24 members representing the accommodation, travel services, car rental, education, attractions and destination marketing organization segments of the tourism industry. The organization meets monthly to discuss tourism trends and issues and is a sounding board for a lot of the services and programs Tourism Thunder Bay is actively pursuing. The Thunder Bay chapter is one of the few in Canada that has representation by a municipality and the only one where a member of the municipal tourism association is the President. This is an accomplishment I'm proud of and shows a positive public/private working relationship to help build a stronger local tourism industry.

For more information on SKAL, SKAL Canada and SKAL Thunder Bay, visit:

Sport Tourism Strategy Released

The City of Thunder Bay's new Sport Tourism strategy was approved by City Council on December 8, 2008. Sport tourism is worth an estimated $40 million annually for the local economy so a greater focus on this segment of the tourism industry is key to a healthy sustainable local tourism industry buy building on the City's advantages as a sport tourism destination.

The policy, three years in development, is a significant milestone for both the Tourism and Recreation Divisions as it will create an enhanced and more formalized working relationship between the two divisions that will deliver greater results for the local tourism industry.

Based on the research and findings, the proposed Sport Tourism Events and Activities Policy recommends that the City continue to encourage and strengthen its support to the hosting of sport events that attract significant numbers of visitors to Thunder Bay.
The proposed vision for Thunder Bay is to be recognized as a leading sport host community by successfully hosting major sporting events and activities that attract visitors from outside the City. Maximizing sport opportunities through a shared City vision will:
-Build community pride and spirit
-Benefit the local sport system through the development of volunteers, athletes, coaches, officials, and facilities
-Generate positive economic benefit by attracting and hosting visitors
-Showcase Thunder Bay to national and international audiences
-Promote health and active living

In order to develop sport tourism opportunities, the proposed Sport Tourism Events and Activities Policy recommends that the City:
-assist local sport organizations to attract and host single-sport championships (international, national, provincial and regional);
-host multi-sport games either as the lead host or by supporting other community organizations to host;
-develop sport facility infrastructure;
-attract participants and spectators to sports events;
-help create new sport tourism events and activities as well as supporting existing annual ones;
-promote Thunder Bay as a training site.

For more information on the Sport Tourism Strategy, contact Paul Burke at pburke

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thunder Bay Loses a Tourism Leader

Thunder Bay has lost a prominent tourism leader with the passing of Douglas Wells on November 5, 2008. Doug was an avid traveller and had a lengthy career in both the insurance industry and later, as owner of the Travel Shop in Thunder Bay until 2005 when he sold the business. Doug remained active in both the business he started and with many community groups until the spring of 2008.

Doug was a long serving member of the Fort William Rotary Club, the advisory board of the tourism program at Confederation College and was a fellow Skaleague of mine as a member of the Thunder Bay Chapter of SKAL International. While I only knew Doug personally for the past two years, his sense of humour, wisdom and knowledge of the tourism industry and "tell it like it is" attitude was appreciated by me and everyone else around him, qualities that will be missed.

Doug was predeceased by his wife Lorraine in 2004 and is survived by his three children, four grandchildren, many other relatives and countless friends.

Funeral Services for Doug Wells will be held on Monday November 10th at 11 AM in Wesley United Church in Thunder Bay.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ministry of Tourism Announces the Celebrate Ontario Event Support Program for 2009

Ontario’s festivals and events are a major economic driver for communities across the province.

Celebrate Ontario 2009 is a $9 million program to increase the economic potential of new and existing tourism festivals and events. The program is open to festivals and events taking place in Ontario between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010.

NEW!! This year, the program offers three levels of financial support:

Up to $50,000 for festivals and events with operating budgets of less than $250,000
Up to $100,000 for festivals or events with operating budgets between $250,000 and $1 million annually
Up to $400,000 for festivals or events with operating budgets in excess of $1 million annually.

To apply for funding, applicants are asked to fill out the Celebrate Ontario 2009 application form and review the application guide carefully before submitting.
The deadline for applications is January 16, 2009.
Please note:

Applications must be submitted in person or by mail/courier.
Applications submitted in person must be received by the Ministry of Tourism, 900 Bay Street, 9th Floor Hearst Block, Toronto by 5 p.m. on January 16, 2009.
Mailed or couriered applications must be postmarked no later than January 16, 2009 and sent to the address below.

Applications posted after the deadline unfortunately cannot be accepted.

Investment and Development OfficeOntario Ministry of Tourism900 Bay Street, 9th Floor
Hearst BlockToronto, ON M7A 2E1

For more information on this great program and to access the application guide and forms, visit:

New Skate and BMX Plaza Brings New Sport Tourism Opportunities

On Saturday November 1st, 2008, City of Thunder Bay officials and members of the local skateboarding community joined forces to cut the ribbon and open a spectacular and unique new recreation and sport tourism facility, and right on the shore of Lake Superior no less.

The new Skate board and BMX plaza, located at Prince Arthur's Landing on the shore of Lake Superior, is the first major project completed as part of the city's new waterfront development strategy and aims to make the area a more inviting place for youth and families to enjoy throughout the year.

The park's opening was welcomed by over 500 young -and young at heart-riders, eager to experience this new park, considered one of the finest of its kind in Canada. The fact that it was November 1st made no difference as it was a sunny, 12 degree celcius afternoon. Whether skating, biking or just watching the activities with Lake Superior and Sleeping Giant in the background, this was the place to be in Thunder Bay this weekend. Even as night fell, some 100 riders were enjoying the park by streetlight well into the evening.

Why is this park good for tourism? BMX and Skateboarding competitions are big business in North America and there are pro and semi pro circuits criss crossing the continent. Having a park of this magnatude, including the California Bowl (one of only two kidney shaped in Canada) allows the city to host regional, national and even international amateur and pro competitions in the future. Linked in with the new Toivo St BMX track, the Wake the Giant WakeBoard festival and the Shuniah Mines Mountain Bike, trails, we are poised to capitalize on the City's connection to the outdoors and to these hugely popular sport and recreation opportunities. A single event with 250 out of town particpants could generate up to $500 000 for the local tourism economy.

This park also enhances Thunder Bay's marketing position as a great outdoor city and a hip destination for outdoor experience seeking youth travel markets.

The new facilities are already creating significant buzz in the skate and BMX online world, reaching riders in the local, Winnipeg, US and Toronto markets who are expressing interest in making Thunder Bay a destination for them and their friends. Check out this story and comments by riders from all over the globe to see what I mean.

With a new sport tourism strategy set to be released by the end of 2008, followed by the release of the Premier Ranked Tourism Destination framework, our strategic direction will help support this type of sport infrastructure investments and the tourism related events they can bring.

The Thunder Bay Skeateboard Coalition is helping raise a portion of the capital costs. If you are interested in buying a named brick for $100 to support this great facility, visit This group has been instrumental in the development of the park, working with the city administration throughout the process.

Once the doner wall, landscaping and california bowl are completed in early 2009, the park will have a more officious opening. In the meantime, there's plenty of opportunity to enjoy the challenging experiences it provides. Stay tuned as your's truly will be found at the park in my skate gear as well.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

September Terry Fox Visitor Centre Update

The September Terry Fox Visitor Centre registrations are in and as predicted with respect to the severity of the global economic environment, leisure visitation to the city, visitor registrations have posted a 14% decline over September 2007.

Total Visitor Registrations to the centre were 2635 versus 3085 in September 2007.

Canadian Registrations continue to dominate, accounting for 1836 registrations, down from 1913 in 2007. Canadian travel stands at 70% of toal visitors with the majority being from Ontario
Ontario - 1146
Manitoba - 150
Quebec - 69
BC - 153
Alberta - 178

Both Alberta and British Columbia posted gains in 2008 over 2007.

The United States market, at 682 registrations, is down 15% from September 2007. However, Minnesota posted increases in 2008.

The overseas market registrations were down sharply to 117 in September 2008, from 364 in 2007.

For the entire third quarter of 2008, total Registrations at the Terry Fox Centre were down 19% over the third quarter of 2007.

However, the corporate and sport tourism markets remained steady, with hotel occupancy rates in the city remaining on par with the 2007. A stronger corporate travel market in Q 3, helped by conferences such as SAREX, kept visitation in those segments ahead of 2007 levels. The Ontario Youth Diving and Swimming Championships, held back to back in July 2008 helped create several zero vacancy weekends in Thunder Bay this summer.

Given the challenges facing the leisure travel markets, Tourism Thunder Bay has increased marketing and promotional investment in the corporate and sport tourism markets. We have had an increased presence this year at Incentive Works and other meeting planners forums, and have been focusing on the mining, government, Aboriginal, health sciences and education sectors for hosting conferences in the city.

Thunder Bay Profiled at the 2008 International Eco and Sustainable Tourism Conference

Tourism Thunder Bay has received international recognition for its new tourism marketing direction focused on a strong “Superior By Nature” brand and building awareness of the city as one of Canada’s great outdoor cities to stay, work and play. The City was invited to present its strategy, focused around the hugely popular “Seven Days With the Giant” marketing partnership at the International Eco and Sustainable Tourism Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia from October 27-29, 2008.

Organized by the International Ecotourism Society based in Washington, D.C, the conference brought together over 400 eco and sustainable tourism experts from around the globe including operators, destination marketers, academics, urban planners and developers to discuss best practices in sustainable tourism development. Tourism Thunder Bay’s presentation, with assistance from the Strategic Tourism Development and Marketing Partnership for Northern Ontario, was titled “Seven Days With The Giant…A Case Study in Promoting Communities Through Parks.”

Being profiled at a conference of this importance is a great accomplishment for Tourism Thunder Bay and the entire community. Building urban experiences around our parks and Lake Superior has raised the profile of the city tremendously and to be recognized by global leaders in sustainable tourism is a sign that we are on the right path with this bold new approach to marketing Thunder Bay. Eco tourism is not just about far off remote wilderness places. It’s about promoting responsible travel that conserves the environment and benefits local economies. That is something every tourism business, urban and outdoor, can build towards in our new global social, environmental and economic climate.

Tourism Thunder Bay is looking forward to continuing this direction and leading the local tourism industry in striving to develop and promote the city’s collective visitor experiences to an increasingly higher environmentally sustainable standard.

For more information on the conference, visit

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tourism Thunder Bay Profiled at the 2008 International Sustainable Tourism Conference

Tourism Thunder Bay's new marketing direction focusing on a stronger "Superior By Nature" brand position, started in 2007 and is starting to generate a lot of industry attention internationally. Its about to get an even bigger boost. I will be a panel speaker at the 2008 International Sustainable Tourism Conference being held in Vancouver British Columbia from October 27-29.

Under the conference track titled "Parks and Protected Areas", I will be speaking about the City's strategy to position itself as one of Canada's Great Outdoor City by capitalizing on its unique assets, being Lake Superior and the abundance of Provincial and National Parks on its doorstep. The presentation will focus on the Seven Days With the Giant theme and how it created a marketing buzz with an significant contest based campaign that meshed urban and outdoor experiences together, postitioning Thunder Bay as a gateway city to spectacular outdoor experiences for the leisure, sport and corporate markets.

For more information on the conference, visit

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tourism Thunder Bay is Moving!

Tourism Thunder Bay is on the move and what sweeter place than Thunder Bay's Waterfront!

We have been in the Victoriaville Civic Centre for a number of years and with space at a premium in the growing southcore office market, we are pleased to be moving to the Waterfront Pool 6 property effective October 27th. The building is the former Pool 6 grain elevator offices and later, the Buchannen Lunber Sales Centre. The City of Thunder Bay implded the elevator silos in the early 2000s, leaving a great 8500 square foot office building with great lake, city and harbour views.

Our offices will be closed on Friday October 24th to facilitate the movers and IT set up but we'll be open for busy first thing Monday morning.

Our telephone numbers, email, and mailing address all remain the same. However, our street address is 53 South Water Street. For those who don't know, this little known piece of road is actually a duplicate extension of the existing Water Street. For directions to our offices, turn into Marina Park at the Pearl St Intersection, turn right once past the tracks and proceed for about 500 meters behind the boat launches and tug basin to the Pool 6 office building. We are on the upper level and parking and the main entrance is on the south side of the building.

Future plans for the centre and surrounding land include the development of a tourism industry education centre in the office to host lunch and learn educational sessions and small industry group meetings. The property is home to one of the waterfront's best deep water piers, an 880 foot concrete and iron behemouth with 30 feet of draft. Naturally, we will be making improvements to this facility to begin hosting cruise ships, the first of which, the MV Clelia II, is slated to visit the city 11 times in 2009.

Busy fall for Tourism Thunder Bay

This fall has been an incredibly busy time for us at Tourism Thunder Bay and I have not had a chance to post in a while. After finishing off what has been a successful summer, we have been planning our 2009 marketing strategies and attending a number of industy conferences and meetings clear across Canada, including the Ontario Tourism Summit, The Ontario Motor Coach Association and a number of convention planners showcases.

We are proud to announce that one of our 2007 marketing campaigns was a finalist at the Ontario Tourism Summit Gala awards this year. We were nominated for "Best Marketing Campaign under $25 000 for a series of marketing programs in 2007 that included our contribution to the Dougall Media "Seven Wonders of Thunder Bay" campaign, the Rediscover your City promotional tabloid and web campaign and the facebook launch of the Bluesfest Friends and Family contest that encouraged local residents to email or facebook the contest link to their friends and family across North America for a chance to win a trip to Thunder Bay and the Bluesfest. The entire series of campaigns were designed to coincide with National Tourism week during the first week of June 2007 and encourage local residents to be ambassadors for their city and to showcase all of the great events and attractions in the city to take their visiting friends and relatives (VFR). The VFR market comprises close to 29% of leisure visitors to Thunder Bay annually so reaching this marketin the pre summer vacation season is a great way to boost admissions to the local attractions and events.

We are pleased that we finished runner up to Stratford. It is the first time we have been nominated at the Summit and the second place showing demonstrates the advances in our marketing efforts over the past two years.

We have also had a record number of leads from the fall "Incentive Works" Meeting and Convention Planning conference held in Toronto this past month.

One of the most exciting conferences we worked on to bring to the city this year was the Canadian Armed Forces SAREX 2008, Search and Rescue exercises. Held in the city in early October, 350 Canadian and US military personel were in the city for a week, creating an economic impact for the city in excess of $4.5 million.

The Ontario Motor Coach Association's annual show in Toronto proved, for the second year in a row, to be a popular event. The price of fuel has led to an resurgence in the motorcoach touring industry and the Lake Superior and Cross Canada itineraries are showing strong demand for domestic (Lake Superior/Northern Ontario) and Asian (Cross Canada)

We will keep you posted on the outcomes of these shows.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Seven Days With the Giant Winners Experience the Trip of their Lifetime

After almost a year of planning, 25000 entries and the launch of one of the most aggressive leisure marketing campaigns ever undertaken in Northwestern Ontario, The winners of Seven Days with the Giant arrived in Thunder Bay on August 23rd to begin their Great Ontario Outdoor Adventure of a lifetime.

Anna and Ulinda Persaud, Godfry Rodney and Dale Nascimento of Mississauga were selected from the thousands of entries and while Anna will be joining the group late, Godfry and Dale have been enjoying a spectacular time in the city and in Sleeping Giant Park.

Midway through their adventure, they have already experienced the warm hospitality of the Valhalla Inn, A great little fuel efficient SUV from Enterprise, an afternoon at Fort William Historical Park, a remarkable float plane tour of the city and the Sleeping Giant, camping, canoeing and hiking around the park, tea at the Silver Islet Store, great local foods from the Thunder Bay Farmer's Market and the company of famed adventurers Gary and Joanie McGuffin who are teaching them to use their new Nikon cameras.

Later this week, they will be taking a sail charter with, enjoying Eagle Canyon Adventures, dinner at the Caribou and a friday spent exploring Thunder Bay's attractions, galleries, eateries and before heading home.

Tourism Thunder Bay wants to take this opportunity to list and thank all of the sponsors that made this spectacular campaign possible
We're looking forward to a 2009 version of Seven Days With the Giant campaign. We'll keep you posted as it rolls out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thunder Bay Loses a Tourism Champion

The team at Tourism Thunder Bay extends its condolences to the family of the late Paul Charles Drombolis. Paul passed away on August 16th, 2008.

Paul was the former Manager of Tourism for the city up until 1990 and has always been a well respected and active member of the tourism community in the city, right up to his passing. Paul was a fellow member of the Thunder Bay Chapter of SKAL and has always been a tremendous Ambassador for the city. His insights into tourism and passion for the city and its potential have always been appreciated by those around him.

Paul is survived by his wife of 52 years, Helen.

A reception to celebrate Paul's life will take place on August 26th at 2 PM at the Travelodge Airlane Hotel in Thunder Bay.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

20089 Tourism Partnership Opportunities Announced

Tourism Thunder Bay has just released its 2009 Industry partnership sales kits and based on the popularity of the web and print materials produced, it is undeniably, the best marketing investment for local and regional tourism businesses.

We've simplified the partnership process even further for 2009 and held the rates at 2008 levels in recognition of the challenges facing the tourism industry. Tourism partners can choose web and print based marketing opportunities that are seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Many of our partners report that their clients are finding them through the web and visitor magazine.

2009's tourism marketing strategy will focus on the strengthened "Superior By Nature" brand and continue to position Thunder Bay as one of Canada's great outdoor cities for work and play. Our segment focus will see the "Seven Days With the Giant" contest based campaign form the major leisure thrust in 2009, following up on the hugely successful 2008 campaign that generated 26000 entries. A new Sport Tourism strategy will be released this fall and a new Meetings and Convention partnership program will start development this September, with a focus on the mining, education, health sciences, Anishnabae and government sectors. Our group tour marketing efforts will be ramped up to focus on motorcoach, motorcycle and cruise shipping.

Generator, our new creative agency, is currently working on our media strategy for 2009 for all of our segments including the look and feel of the campaigns and the specific media channels we will be utilizing based on consumer data and web visitation trends gathered to date. We anticipate having the new marketing program unveiled sometime in mid autumn.

Tourism Thunder Bay will continue to provide leadership in the application of web technology to reach the 80% of consumers who use the web as their primary trip planning tool. Tourism Thunder Bay will be launching a new enhanced interactive tourism portal this fall and we have just entered into an agreement with the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation to provide local content management for the new Ontario tourism portal. Our blogs and Facebook social media presence continue to draw hundreds of viewers daily and provide an interactive window to the city and its attractions.

The annual Visitor Experience Magazine is returning in print and online versions. 120 000 print copies are circulated to over 250 racks around the region, distributed through the Grand Marias Fort William Historical Park Canada Gateway Centre, at every Provincial and regional tourism information centre in Ontario and major Ontario Parks locations. The online version is expecting over 41 000 downloads this year, extending our partners display advertising reach even further. We are wrapping up this package with a wide range of advertising rates for the 2009 Experience magazine that are accessible to a wide range of tourism business budgets.

Online marketing opportunities include enhanced listings on the website and the purchase of banner ads and logo docks. In 2008, our banner and logo dock clients report receiving thousands and even tens of thousands of clicks from their enhanced presence. We provide free url tracking and report performance back to you on your on-line marketing performance throughout the year.

To particpate in our print and online marketing channels for 2009, you can view opportunities online at:
Please email RoseMarie Mancusa at for more information on what marketing tool is best for your business.

July Tourism Performance Report

July tourism statistics just released for the city of Thunder Bay are painting a mixed picture that overall, point to the city faring remarkably well given the overwhelming challenges facing the tourism industry in 2008 across North America.

While visitor centre registrations have declined approximately 24% over July 2007, they are in line with 2006's July statistics, with 6671 visitors registering at both centres, down from 9189 in July 2007. For the year to date, Visitor centre registrations are down 14%. Changes this year saw the Terry Fox centre close an hour earlier than in previous years and the Pagoda hours and days of operation extended to provide an enhanced downtown presence. These hours contribute to an approximate loss of 320-600 registrations at Terry Fox during July.

However, Website visitation is up 31% over year to date 2007, with 277 000 visitors using the website to plan their trips. With respect to the Visitor Experience Magazine, Tourism Thunder Bay's new iconic print fulfillment guide, an additional 20 000 print copies were produced and the distribution levels have increased by over 30% over this time last year. The populatity of the guide has translated into them moving into visitor's hands faster than previous years as indicated by the refill rates of the more than 250 racks around the city and region. The online version of the guide has also generated over 28 000 downloads.

The declining use of the visitor centres this season is not a cause for concern when coupled with the significant increase in use of the City's travel website and visitor guide and points to the fact that visitors are using these comprehensive online ad print tools in place of the visitor centers. The visitor center also caters almost entirely to the leisure market and does not generally attract corporate or sport tourism visitors, segments that have remains strong this year.

Industry performance remains relatively steady compared to 2007 with the accommodation sector reporting revenue per room comparable to 2007 and in some cases performing above the previous year. Major attractions are also reporting relatively steady traffic, comparable to 2007 with at least one attraction reporting an increase, due largely to a resurgence in motorcoach traffic, a market that has almost doubled in size for the city in the past year for many tourism partners.

Given the challenges facing the industry, the city is faring well, in large part due to the diversification of the tourism marketing strategy that has put greater emphasis on sport, corporate and group travel over previous year, a strategy that appears to be paying off for many local tourism industry partners.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thunder Bay Profiled at the 2008 International Eco and Sustainable Tourism Conference

There is no doubt that the current global economic and environmental climate has changed the way people travel and in the selection of their travel destinations. Consumers are looking to stretch their travel budgets and are also turning more, than ever before, to "greener"experiences whereby the minimize their impact on the surrounding environment. The tourism industry needs to embrace opportunities to improve the sustainablilty of their visitor experiences and reduce the expece of travel and operating expenses through environmentally responsible operating practices.

With this change in the status quo, its no wonder that the presence of Thunder Bay at this year's International Eco and Sustainable Tourism Conference will help raise our profile as a both a destination for visitors and investment platform for small and medium sized tourism operations looking to take advantage of people's changing travel patterns and motivations.

This year's speaker's list for the conference includes Heidi Stoble, an Initiaitves Officer with FedNor ( and myself. Heidi is a huge supporter of eco and sustainable tourism development and through FedNor, has been an important financial partner with the City in the development of Seven Days With the Giant.

Not to let too much out of the bag before our presentation but our focus on creating new eco and sustainable tourism opportunities in Canada's Boreal forest and will capitalize upon the attention Thunder Bay is receiving in global sustainable tourism community for a very unique new direction in developing partnerships with Parks within our tourism marketing and product development. We want Thunder Bay to be known as one of Canada's, if not North America's, great outdoor cities and are positioning it to be so in all of our marketing by focusing on our connection to the iconic Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and to our intimate connection to Lake Superior. By partnering with our Provincilal and National Parks, leading with unique outdoor experiences and building a mystique around them, we raise the profile of Thunder Bay that transcends well beyond the liesure travel market.

Raising the profile of Thunder Bay is the first, and most important step to attracting new visitor markets, be it leisure, corporate, group travel and sports. People are looking for new experiences, new locations and are doing so with a much greater appreciation for sustainability and environmental responsibility.

We're capitiaizing on our connection to the Sleeping Giant to lure new outdoor visitors and help foster new small business development to meet the changing needs for travellers. We're positioning the city as a unique destination for meetings and conferences, based on the potential to offer unique venues and team building options. We're marketing the city as a natural for hosting sport competitions, many of which are held in the outdoors. For group travel, the Lake Superior Circle has not even scratched the surface as a successful destination for international touring travellers by pedel or motorcycle, motor coach, RV or boat.

To be selected to present at the Eco Tourism conference is a huge honour for the City of Thunder Bay and FedNor and supports the success of the work collectively done so far to develop a positive image for the community, create new partnerships with our outdoor experience providers and other orders of government to build a healthy and sustainable tourism industry in a new global climate.

For more information on the 2008 International Eco and Sustainable Tourism Conference, please visit

To read our bios, click on the following:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Travel Media Descends on Thunder Bay

Throughout July Tourism Thunder Bay ( have played host to an unprecedented number of travel journalists through our partnership with Ontario Parks ( and the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (

During the week of July 19th, Tourism Thunder Bay played host to eight writers from three countries travelling in two groups. The theme of both tours was "Four Days With the Giant" and we were able to showcase Thunder Bay's incredible "Superior By Nature" brand of customer service.

One group consisting of Canadian and US freelance journalists arrived in the City on July 19th and were escorted around the community for six days, visiting Sleeping Giant Park, paddling and sailing the harbour and rivers through the city, visiting iconic attractions such as Fort William Historical Park and Kakabeka Falls and enjoying many of Thunder Bay's unique culinary experiences, including the Hoito, Caribou, Good News, Thunder Oak Gouda and others.

The second group was arranged through OTMPC's Japanese office and consisted of four Japanese journalists who specialize in writing about Women's outdoor experiences. This group enjoyed much of the same itinerary that focused on outdoor and cultural experiences combined with urban culture and culinary elements. The Asian travel market, while a small percentage of Thunder Bay visitors, shows tremendous growth potential as the market looks to explore Canada beyond Toronto and Vancouver. It is also a group that stays longer adnd leaves a much greater per person economic impact.

For both tours, Tourism Thunder Bay's Cathy Presenger worked behind the scenes to arrange the local itineraries and provide support to ensure their every need was accommodated while in the community.

The recurring comment made by the writers was the incredible hospitality they received in the city, the abundance of attractions and discoveries, great summer weather, cleanliness of the community and the interest in being present in a community undergoing an exciting economic transition. One group was treated to wine with their Caribou dinner experience, complements of kayaker Maureen Stehman, whom they met on the McIntyre River earlier in the day.

The writers had time to explore on their own and went discovering unique local gems, some of which were unknown to even those of us in the know!

As the articles start emerging in print and online travel journals, we will be posting links on this site.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tourism and Recreation Divisions Ramp up New Sport Tourism Strategy

The City of Thunder Bay's Recreation Division, in co-operation with the Tourism Thunder Bay, is in the process of development of a new Sport Tourism Strategy for the City and has released its draft policy document outlining the City's proposed new sport tourism strategy.

For Tourism Thunder Bay, sport tourism is essential in growing the city's tourism industry. Sport tourism succeeds in attracting small, medium and sized groups of travellers who leave a significant economic impact in the city on everything from hotel rooms to restaurants, car rental agencies and retail and entertanment facilities. Sport travellers are destination experience seekers and will likely travel to a community to compete regardless of external factors such as fuel prices, passport issues, etc.

The proposed new strategy spells out, among other things, better focus on the types of events the community will bid on, provide recommendations on future infrastructure investment, identify new sport tourism opportunities and roll out a new sport tourism marketing budget specifically for pre qualified sport tourism events with a demonstrated business plan and economic impact for the community and region.

The new strategy is expected to be finalized in mid Fall 2008.

For more information regarding the City of Thunder Bay's Sport Tourism efforts, visit To see the proposed draft Sport Tourism Strategy, you can email Paul Burke at for a copy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thunder Bay Outfitter partners with Project Healing Waters

Media Release: - For Immediate Release July 9, 2008

Healing On The Albany – Ready to Go!

On July 12th, seven American and three Canadian soldiers will be the guests of a Canadian adventure travel company, Wilderness North of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada and marks the first time the American non-profit group Project Healing Waters (PHW) will stage an event outside of the U.S. and one that includes non-U.S. soldiers.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. ( was started at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC by retired Navy Captain Ed Nicholson through partnerships with the Federation of Fly Fishers and The National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The program grew and is now a nationwide program serving vets across the United States and now, Canada. The skills required to fly fish and tie flies have proven to be a valuable tool in the rehabilitation of these heroes who have been wounded from all conflicts that the U.S. and Canada have been involved in.

PHW event coordinator Mark Snyder said the July 12-20 event – Healing on the Albany – is the result of contributions from both sides of the border, both as cash, and in the form of equipment and services. “It all started when Wilderness North owners, Alan and Krista Cheeseman, made their gift of 10 fly in fishing adventure trips to their Miminiska Lodge on the Albany River and includes round trip flights from Thunder Bay, and all food, lodging, boats and motors for the soldiers, a value of over $30,000.” Wilderness North published a story about the soldiers in an e-newsletter sent to their own e-mail subscribers, who in turn responded with over $12,000 dollars in cash.”

Ed Newby of Chicago, a retired airline pilot from American Airlines has donated his private plane and that of friend Bob Buttgen who will fly the U.S. soldiers from Chicago to Thunder Bay on July 11th and back to Chicago on July 20th. American Airlines has donated all flights for the U.S. soldiers to and from Chicago. Inova Federal Credit Union gave $5000 from members and employees, the North Shore Steelhead Association of Thunder Bay is paying a portion of the expenses for the Canadian soldiers, an elementary school in Pittsburg, PA had a fund drive to raise money and Tourism Thunder Bay is coordinating media distribution and sponsoring the shuttle service while they stay in Thunder Bay. Other contributors include RIO Products (Idaho Falls, ID), Cabelas (Sidney, NE), The Fly Fisherman (Clermont, FL), Temple Forks Outfitters (Dallas, TX), Orvis (Manchester, VT), Korkers (Portland, OR) and St. Moritz (Vancouver, BC)

While in Thunder Bay, guests will enjoy a breakfast reception with representatives from the Thunder Bay Military community and tour Fort William Historical Park as guests of Tourism Thunder Bay.

Aboard those big orange Wilderness North de Havilland Otter floatplanes taking off from Thunder Bay on the morning of July 12th will be ten brave men who suffered the injuries of war, now on their way to the peace of the lush green boreal forests of Northwestern Ontario - - a borderless trip made possible by both U.S. and Canadian persons, who through their gifts, say “Thank You” to those who protect our freedoms everyday.

A media opportunity will be held at 11:45 AM, Saturday July 12th, 2008 at the Wilderness North seaplane base, located at 531 Shipyard Drive, Thunder Bay, ON.


Project Healing Waters-Washington D.C.-Mark Snyder
Wilderness North – Thunder Bay, ON – Wayne Blackmon

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tourism Industry Spotlight - Superior Outdoors

To celebrate those that are helping build a strong tourism economy, I'm introducing a new segment that will focus on different tourism related businesses and people.

Superior Outdoors ( magazine got its start in the spring of 2007 with its premier issue to much acclaim within the outdoor community. Local owners Darren and Michelle McChristie have put together a spectacular publication and website dedicated to the silent sports and environmentally sustainable recreational pursuits that the Lake Superior basin offers. They have discovered a unique niche in the editorial marketplace and have become champions for the lake basin and all it has to offer those of us looking to learn more about it.

The publication has grown rapidly in distribution and content and the third issue, released in early June 2008, is on newstands throughout the region and into Southern Ontario outdoor retailers such as Mountain Equipment Co-op stores in the Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa markets. Locally, it is available at Chapters and most local outdoor retailers.

Hats off to the McChristies for establishing their business venture and their role in helping to promote the Lake Superior region as a unique destination.

If you have a tourism business or know of a person that wants to be featured, email me at and we'll consider your story for future online editions.

July Tourism News

Stats Showing local Tourism Industry on Par with 2007

With the first half of 2008 behind us, we are starting to paint a picture of how the visitor season will unfold. With the Tourism industry facing a number of unprecedented environmental challenges to contend with across Canada, Thunder Bay's tourism industry appears to be holding steady overall compared to 2007.

A review of a number of key indicators released to date paint a mixed picture and have identified areas of both opportunity and decline.

On the accommodations front, the local sector has faired well and on average, revenue per room has remained consistent with 2007 levels and in some cases slight increases have been shown. This has been largely due to growth in both the corporate (meetings and conventions) and sport tourism activities in the city and points to the successes of the city's enhanced focus on diversified tourism marketing efforts that put greater emphasis on attracting conferences and sporting events. The Mining Symposium and various sport events such as the Ontario Swimming Championships are strong indicators of the city's strategic advantage in hosting large groups.

Web visitation to have shown a 51% increase over the same period of 2007, with visitors exceeding the 242 000 mark, up from 180 000 during the first half of 2007. This shows an increase in awareness about the city and it is being used as a tool to research leisure, sport and corporate travel.

Visitor Registrations at the Terry Fox Centre for the second quarter of 2008 show an approximate 8% decline. Domestic registrations are down approximately 4% with the biggest losses coming from Quebec, BC and Alberta markets. The Ontario market has shown increases of 2% over 2007, consistent with industry expectations that North American travellers would stay closer to home in 2008.

US registration numbers at the centre have shown a 25% decline over 2007 for the second quarter with declines across all major US markets. Overseas markets, while only representing 5% of our market, showed a 23% increase, consistent with national trends towards more European and Asian visitors who are coming to Canada because of the relative bargains and lower fuel prices compared to home markets. While the overseas markets are small, they typically stay longer in the community and have a higher per person per day spending over domestic visitors.

However, Canada Border Services data for the 2nd quarter paints a slightly more optimistic picture. While June US traffic at the Pigion River crossing was down 23%, April and May were on par with 2007 for US travellers entering Canada south of Thundder Bay, resulting in a second quarter decrease of only 12% overall. The second quarter saw 14 832 cars while 2007 saw 16 952 cars. However, the number of occupants within each car (not reported) is the more accurate measurement of visitation.

While we do not capture every single visitor in registrations at the Terry Fox Centre, the sampling represents the majority of those who provide basic information on their point of origin and is used as a barometer for guaging leisure traffic. Visitor retention is another important statistic as visitors who stay longer in the community will leave more of an economic impact, offsetting losses incurred by the number of person visits. U.S. visitors, while numbering less, are typically staying longer, helping to partially offset economic declines.

It is cautious to point out that these numbers are early indicators based on available data at this time. July and August travel numbers will be provide a more accurate picture as these two months represent the height of the leisure travel season. May and June border crossing statistics have not been released to us as of yet and may very well show declines less significant than visitor centre registrations are indicating, in percentage terms. We will endeavour to release data as it becomes available to us.

Motor Coach Industry Ramping Up

This Year's OMCa (Ontario Motorcoach Operators Association) conference painted a picture of an increase in motorcoach activity for 2008 and 2009 and the City recently hosted representatives from a number of Motor Coash and Tour operators who toured the city's main attractions to understand the opportunities that exist here. With rising fuel prices, the motorcoach industry is expecting a rise in travel as it becomes a more affordable option for those seeking to explore the country by road.

A number of cross Canada motorcoach tours are expected in the city over the summer and recently I had the opportunity to dine with 97 Southern Ontario visitors travelling aboard two Great Canadian Coaches from Toronto to Victoria on a tour called "Fabric of Canada" While in the city, they dined at the Fort William Country Club dining room, with the Norwesters providing the perfect backdrop to several presentations on the geology of the city by Ministry of Northern Development and Mines ( Geologist Mark O'Brien and Tim Lukinuk of Amethyst Mine Panorama (

Special Group Visit Coming Up

On July 11th, 13 very special visitors will be coming through Thunder Bay on their way North for a 8 day fly fishing school with Wilderness North ( through their sponsorship of a program called "Healing Waters"

10 U.S. and 3 Canadian Military Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who have suffered serious physical injuries during the course of their service, will be arriving in Thunder Bay on the evening of July 11th and will be flying north to one of Wilderness North's camps on July 12th to enjoy a relaxing week of world class fly fishing.

American Airlines has donated the flights for the service men to Chicago and a number of retired airline pilots will be flying them to Thunder Bay on their private aircraft to start their adventure. We want to extend a huge Thunder Bay welcome to our friends from across North America who have made enourmous sacrifices in the battle against global terrorism.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active duty military personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings. You can click on to learn more about this program or to make a donation.

Upcoming Media Tours

Later this month a number of media familiarization tours will be in the city, including a number of Japanese travel writers and outdoor travel writers from as far a field as Atlanta, Georgia. These itineraies have been brought together in partnership with Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership in support of Seven Days with the Giant.

...and speaking of the Giant, Seven Days with the Giant generated over 25 246 entries during its 3 month run.

BluesFest Weekend Getaway a Success.

This year's TBayTel's Thunder Bay Bluesfest was a great event with perfect weather. Tourism Thunder Bay was a media sponsor of the event and hosted the Bluesfest Weekend Getaway contest in the regional, Winnipeg and Northern Minnesota markets. This year set a new record for entries, with over 700 received. The winners, from Winnipeg, enjoyed Thunder Bay hospitality with Lake Superior Visits ( and enjoyed 2 VIP passes to the Bluesfest with VIP parking privilages at the gate, a sail tour of the harbour and one night aboard 's floating bed and breakfast, two nights at the Days Inn North ( and meals at the Prospector, Lot 66 and Ruby Moon. Around Town

The launch of in mid June has generated over 100 stories, photos and videos to date and we are taking the show on the road this summer around the community. Tourism Thunder Bay staff will be around Summer in the Parks events at Marina Park every Wednesday evening to give out buttons and give people the chance to win a cool tee.

A big thanks goes out to sponsor TBaytel ( and Barry Streib for hosting and Tourism Thunder Bay staff at their booth during this past weekend's Bluesfest to help get the message out.

We have started uploading some select stories and photos to the facebook group and will be utilizing these stories and images in upcoming tourism marketing campaigns into 2009.

Sport Tourism Strategy Update

The Recreation and Culture and Tourism Divisions of the City of Thunder Bay are presently circulating a draft sport tourism policy that will form the foundation for a future of aggressive growth. To view and comment upon the proposed policy, contact Paul Burke at We are hoping to have the final policy approved by Council in the fall of 2008.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Small Business Banking Advice for the Tourism Industry

Tourism Thunder Bay has been working proactively with the Thunder Bay financial Services community, educating them on emerging trends in the tourism industy and to encourage them to support tourism ventures that elevate the quality experiences visitors can have in the community.

Scotiabank is literally hitting the road in a specially-equipped RV to deliver information, advice and tools to small business owners across the country to help them grow their businesses to the next level. The RV tour was officially launched in Vancouver on June 3rd and is making a stop in Thunder Bay on June 27th to join local Scotiabank Small Business advisors as they meet with small business owners to identify strategies to grow their businesses.

The Scotiabank ‘Get Growing to a Million’ RV will be in the parking lot of the Scotiabank Balmoral Business Banking Centre on June 27th from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m at 745 Hewitson Street South. Scotiabank Small Business advisors will be on hand. Refreshments will be served and the RV will be open for interested small business owners.

While in town, Scotiabank will be highlighting the success of small business owner Lori Paras, a enthisastic local tourism industry partner and executive member of the North of Superior Tourism Association.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tourism Thunder Bay wows the Cruise Shipping Industry

On June 20th and 21st, Tourism Thunder Bay played host to 6 cruise shipping industry executives representing various companies including Travel Dynamics, Residensea, LePonnant, Mundy Crusing, and Cruise North. They were accompanied by Stephen Burnett , the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition.

The prepresrntatives were on an 8 day air safari of the Great Lakes and member ports of the Great Lakes Cruising Coaliton.

While in the city, they were treated to a tour of the Thunder Bay airport, an important ingredient in attracting vessels to use the city as a home port or terminal for starting and ending cruises, a strateegic advantage that potentially doublews the economic impact on the city. Guests were also treated to a sneak peak of Fort William Historical Park's historic precinct, revealing an incredivbley well manicured and prestine site on the heels of the June 6th flood.

Guests then enjoyed the dinner and hospitality of Whitewater Golf Course with Tim Heney of the Port Authority, Margaret Myslicki of the Thunder Bay Airport Authority and Bonnie Gauthier representing Lake Superior Visits, the local Inbound receptive operator, who all provided overviews of thier operations. After a tour of the course, the evening ended with a trip to Kakabeka Falls at 10 pm, highlighting the exceptionally long days of daylight we receive.

Saturday morning brought them to Good News on the Lake at the Historic CN Station for a catered sit down breakfast with Her Worship Mayor Peterson, Katherine Dugmore, the City's Waterfront Manager and Rob Lefavre of the Canada Border Service Agency. A presentaition on the new development followed by a tour of the Pool Six property, designated as the future cruise ship docking facility gave the delegation a great view of the harbour and a great site for future. From here, they boarded their chartered Kingair to continue a low slow flyover of the Lake Superior coast to Duluth.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Local Tourism Sector Supports Moving Muscles Ride 2008

Moving Muscles Ride 2008, a group of five university students, are cycling across Canada this summer to raise funds and awareness for Muscular Dystrophy. The five riders are Keith Martin, Jonathan Eric Taves, Patrick Cuthbert, Michael McDonald and Brian Avery Sprague.

The riders have a personal connection to Muscular Dystrophy in that Keith Martin suffers from Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD), a form of Muscular Dystrophy, a disorder that is characterized by the progressive weakening and wasting of voluntary muscles that control body movement. FSHD primarily affects the muscles in the face, shoulders and arms. Kieth is fortunate as others affected by the disorder are confimed to a wheelchair and although his future with FSHD is uncertain, he hopes to be able to maintain his lifestyle by constant movement of his muscle groups to avoid further deterioration. There is currently no cure or treatment for it.

The local tourism and hospitality sector have jumped on board to support this worthwhile initiative. The Valhalla Inn ( has offered to be the accommodation sponsor for the five riders, ensuring that they will enjoy a first rate sleep after living in tents along the highway for the past few evenings in Northwestern Ontario. Thanks goes out to Rene Gurtner and staff for their participation and extending legendary Thunder Bay hospitality to the group. Tom Petrie of Petries Cycle and Sports is another sponsor of the riders and will be offering them cycle servicing while in the city.

Corporate National Sponsors of the event include Bombardier and Specialized Cycles.

They will arriving in Thunder Bay from the west on Wednesday June 18th in the afternoon. Their fundraising goal is $150 000 and they have raised $112 000 to date and still have half the country to travel.

From time to time Tourism Thunder Bay receives inquiries from charitable groups raising money with exciting and unique cross Canada journeys. The local tourism industry is thrilled to extend Thunder Bay's warm hand of hospitality to those with the passion and determination towards advancing research and treatment of physical and developmental disorders.

You can follow their progress and read their blog each day at
Help us extend a warm Thunder Bay welcome to these five dedicated individuals by supporting Muscular Dystrophy's efforts in research and services.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tourism Thunder Bay June 2008 News

On June 16, 2008, Tourism Thunder Bay, in collaboration with Corporate Communications and the Community Economic Development Commision launched, a community engagement portal developed to gather stories, video and photos from Thunder Bay residents, businesses and visitors about what makes Thunder Bay a great place to live, work and visit.

The campaign will run over the summer and will encourage local residents to build pride in their community, share their best tales and help spread the word about everything there is do do in the city. The camapign will help residents and satisfied visitors become ambassadors for the community. Selling the community to ourselves makes it easier to sell to others.

Selected materials gathered from this engagement campaign will be utilized in a number of upcoming tourism marketing campaigns, focusing on real experiences of real travellers and residents.

The campaign will be supported by community media partners Dougall Media (, Newcap Radio (, NetNewsLedger (, CBC Radio 1 ( and the Chronicle Journal ( While a few other communities around North America have had similar type campaigns, Thunder Bay's is unique in that it will engage social media channels unlike any other city, using Facebook, MySpace, Youtube and other social networks to engage visitors and steer them towards the main portal.

TBayTel ( is a major partner in the campaign as is Thunder Bay Transit and the Thunder Bay Public Library(, who will assist those without access to a home computer to log on at any Thunder Bay Public Library Branch to have their say.
The campaign was developed by the City's creative advertising agency, Generator Advertising ( and a special thanks is extended to Jack Hudolin, Barry Smith, Heather Cranston and Steve Coghill of Generator for their creativity and insights into the project.

Visit to add your photos, stories and videos about what you like best about working, living and visiting Thunder Bay.

Upcoming Familiarization Tours

On June 20 and 21st, Tourism Thunder Bay will be hosting executives representing 7 various cruise lines and vessel management firms. They are touring Great Lakes ports as part of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition's efforts to introduce new cruise vessels to the Great Lakes. While in Thunder Bay, they will visit the Terry Fox Lookout, Whitewater Golf and the new marina development. While Fort William Historical Park is also on the itinerary, flood repairs may alter that visit.

While in the city, they will meet with City officials as well as staff from the Thunder Bay Port Authority, Thunder Bay International Airport Authority and Canada Border Services.

Cruise shipping can offer significant financial impacts on the community and it is expected that the 11 visits in 2009 by the vessel MV Clelia II will generate approximately $300 000 in economic impacts.

Following on their heels will be another delegation of 10 motorcoach executives touring Northern Ontario cities. With rising fuel prices, motorcoach travel is gaining in popularity and touring routes are once again popular. Three routes - the Lake Superior Circle Tour, loops from the prairies and trnas Canada travel catering to a largely Asian market - are all on the city's radar.

Seven Days With the Giant Update

Seven Days with the Giant officially ended May 30 and the campaign generated over 25, 240 entries. The winner's name should be released in the coming weeks and they and 3 guests will be visiting in August, 2008. During the campaign, web visitation to the site increased by 41%.

BluesFest Weekend Getaway

This year, Tourism Thunder Bay celebrated tourism week with the release of the Bluesfest Weekend Getaway campaign in the Winnipeg, Northern Minnesota and regional Northwestern Ontario Markets. Thunder Bay residents are not eligble to enter but are encouraged to invite their out of town friends to enter online. The winner and a friend will recieve weekend passes to the 7th annual TBayTel Thunder Bay Bluesfest, a sailing charter with yacht charters and 1 night overnight accommodation on their floating Bed and Breakfast, two nights stay at the Day's Inn North ( dinners at the Prospector and Lot 66 and lunch at Ruby Moon.

ReDiscover Thunder Bay

In the June edition of "Your City", Tourism Thunder Bay was featured in a two page centre spread, encouraging local residents to rediscover our city. As part of National Tourism week and in response to the fact that 180 000 visitors come to the city annually to visit friends and family, building local amassadors helps sell the city.

Map Flap

As many in the industry are aware, Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership publications left Northwestern Ontario completely off the maps in both the distinctive Getaways campaign and the My Ontario 2008 Visitor Guide. However, with respect to each of the errors, the effects on Thunder Bay were minimized in that, the experiences featured in the Distinctive Getaways were not offered in this part of the Province and in the My Ontario Guide, the map ends just west of the city and Thunder Bay was featured in a 4 page editorial piece focusing on Fort William Historical Park, with the call to action listed as

The Northern Office at the OTMPC took up the issue as did MPP Michael Gravelle and his staff at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. We thank them for bringing the concerns to the highest level to ensure the mistake is not made in the future.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Bill Duron, the Chair of OTMPC several weeks back to discuss many of the great partnerships Tourism Thunder Bay has formed with the OTMPC and Bill offered his heartfelt apology for the map deletion. However, we are pleased with the partnerships with OTMPC that assisted us with many campaigns in the past year, including Seven Days With the Giant. Watch for some new partnerships being announced in the nrear future.

Tourism Thunder Bay on the Move

We're moving out of our VicotriaVille offices and going on down to the water. Effective July 14, 2008, our new administrative offices will be located at Prince Arthur's Landing in the former Pool 6 office building.

The move facilitates the movement of the Mayor and CAO's offices into the former tourism location during City hall renovations this year.

We are excited by the new office location, while in the middle of a construction zone, signals growth of our city and our commitment to the waterfront development and future enhancements on the site, including cruise ship docking commencing in 2009. Terry Fox Visitor Center and the Pagoda will remain themain consumer points of contact for information.

Once we are settled, we welcome industry partners to visit for a tour and to see the plans for the new developments unfold.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Northern Ontario Travel Intentions Released

The Ministry of Tourism has released the 2008 Travel Intentions study focused specifically on Northern Ontario

The full report, undertaken by TNS Canadian Facts is available at the following link.

The intentions mirror what many in the regional industry are already seeing; a decline in US traffic and potential growth markets with short haul domestic markets such as Southern Ontario and Manitoba.

Tourism Thunder Bay has responded to the intentions with marketing efforts that focus more on the region, Manitoba and the Southern Ontario outdoor experience seeker market more likely to travel a little further for unique outdoor adventures.

On other fronts, a greater emphasis on sport tourism development and more agressive corporate marketing are helping to offset potential declines in the leisure markets.

Domestic markets remain steady at the moment, compared with 2007 data and while US markets are lower than 2007, we are noticing a resurgence in interest by the motor coach and cruise ship segments. Tourism Thunder Bay will host 8 cruise industry executives and 10 motorcoach industry representatives on two separate Familiarization Tours in late June 2008.

Tourism Thunder Bay is also partnering with NOSTA and the North of Superior Marian Marketing Association to test market the affluent US midwest boaters market with a series of print and online advertisements and editorial promoting the Lake Superior boating experience. With over 1.5 million boats registered in Minnesota and Wisconsin, focusing on a large market seeking high quality marine experiences, aims at attracting U.S. visitors more likely to travel for an experience they have a passion for.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

08 Visitor Experience Magazine Makes Big Online Waves

The 2008 Thunder Bay Experience Visitor magazine was launched March 1st to great responses from consumers and industry alike and the demand will continue to climb into the summer leisure market season.

In addition to the 120 000 copies in circulation (a 20% increase over 2007) the guide is also available online at In its first two months posted, it has been downloaded 9234 times. At this pace, it is conceivable that it will be viewed online up to 54 000 times this year. This would be a significant increase over the 31 000 copies downloaded in 2007 of the previous guide.

While high quality select print visitor information is still considered an essential part of our marketing mix, online posting of the guide makes perfect sense in that it delivers greater reach for our advertisor's investments in the guide, reduces postage costs for one-off distribution and helps meet our goals of environmental responsibility.

The Experience magazine is important for attracting new visitors to the community but more importantly, it can help keep existing visitors in the community for a longer stay, thereby increasing economic impacts. While we strive to attract new visitors, the current North American economic climate also has us looking at visitor retention as a means to compensate for any loss, in visitor numbers, from particular markets. Comprehesive information sources are a great way to achieve this goal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Web Use Dominates Marketing Efforts

With approximately 80% of travellers using the internet as a trip planning tool, web based marketing continues to be a focal point of our marketing efforts. With an enhanced web site and awareness campaigns that drive consumers to the site as the new primary call to action, we are quickly seeing the results with respect to making new consumer impacts.

From January 1-May 13, 2008, the number of web visitors increased 41% from the same reporting period in 2007, from 89 740 to 150, 702. The site has averaged 1150 visitors per day, up from 685 last year.

76% of these visitors are arriving at the site by typing the url in directly, indicating that the web address is sticking in people's minds and they are responding from a variety of media sources, be it print, web or other.

With coming up second on, when "Thunder Bay" is searched, we are also seeing an additional 22 400 visitors arriving at the site through search engines, primarily Google while 9764 visitors came to the site through the City's main website,

The Thunder Bay tourism community plays an important role in raising the profile as well. A number of local businesses including hotels, retail and restaurants have posted links on their web pages that have shown to successfully guide traffic to the site. We encourage local tourism businesses and organizations to develop free recipricol links to encourage greater traffic movements between sites, something that benefits the tourism community as a whole.

This data is important in assiting us with future marketing and media campaigns by directing our investments where they are most likely to reach potential consumers. Over the next few years, we will pursue more media opportunities in new experience based online markets and be much more focused in both print and web campaigns. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

Thursday, May 8, 2008

2008 Ontario Travel Intentions

Ministry of Tourism Releases 2008 Travel Intentions

The Ministry of Tourism has recently released the Spring/Summer 2008 travel intentions survey conducted by Canadian TNS Facts.

Tourism Thunder Bay is following this data closely and developing proactive and logical responses to address changes in visitor intentions involving new marketing tools and segment focus on dedicated experience seekers.

We expect stronger travel intentions from Southern Ontario and Manitoba markets. We expect that Thunder Bay will be a more appealing destination for regional travellers staying closer to home and those travellingcross country. In 2007, we recorded a 14% increase in Canadian travellers at our municipal Visitor Centers over 2006 and we expect a further 5-10% gain in 2008.

With the struggling U.S. Economy, high fuel prices, a strong Canadian dollar and passport confusion, we expect continued declines in US travellers from Minnesota and Wisconsin but especially from Michigan, Iowa and Illinois as US travellers stay closer to home. We expect U.S. declines at Pigeon River to be in the 12-16% range. U.S. travllers coming to the city and area will likely be outdoor experience seekers (angling, hunting and eco/adventure travel) and Lake Superior Circle Tour tourers.

You can view the entire survey at the following link at the following:

What is Tourism Thunder Bay doing about these trends?

With respect to domestic marketing, some of the major initiaitives we are pursuing include:

Seven Days with the Giant is an experience based campaign has focused specifically on the Southern Ontario and Manitoba markets through a multi media partnership with Fednor, OTMPC, Ontario Parks and over a dozen local experience providers. The campaign, with a $12 500 contest grand prize, raises the profile of Thunder Bay around the iconic Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and positions Thunder Bay as an Outdoor City with great air service options between the GTA and Thunder Bay.

Recognizing a strong visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market makes up 28% of our liesure segment, we are focusing on a number of local awareness campaigns, including a "Rediscover your City" tabloid that will be going to every household in June 2008 to promote Thunder Bay's attractions to local hosts and encouraging them to take their out of town visitors around this summer

A 6 month awareness and engagement campaign, to be unveiled in June 08, will allow residents and visitors to tell their stories about Thunder Bay, build awareness of our local experiences and provide material for future campaigns

Local mediarelations partnerships to help residents and regional visitors know about local attrractions and experiences and encouraging local residents to send the 2008 Visitor Experience magazine to their friends and family.

The U.S. market, while declining, still represented 23% of our visitation in 2007 and 30% of visitor spending.

Tourism Thunder Bay is a participant in the Fort William Historical Park Canada Gateway Center. Located along highway 61 south of Grand Maria (with daily traffic counts of 4300 vehicles), the centre is in a popular tourism region and is within our short haul market catchment area. The centre will raise the awareness of Thunder Bay as a destination and provide regular information to the more than 5 000 Cook County residents who travel to Thunder Bay for VFR, dining, shopping and entertainment experiences.

Seven Days with the Giant is being heavily promoted in the US border states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and targets affluent outdoor experience seekers through outdoor retail stores, websites and targeted direct e-mail.

Attracting affluent niche markets in the boating, outdoor and touring categories with tactical approaches including the Minneapolis Boat Show (resulting in 1400 inquiries in 2008), and editorial focusing on motorsport touring in publications such as Lake Superior Magazine and AAA Living.

Other Segments

We are actively pursuing new strategies to increase market share in both the sport tourism and corporate segments. With respect to Sport Tourism, We will be releasing a new Sport Tourism Strategy mid 2008 and we are actively engaged in the develop of several new "Thunder Bay owned" events including a major fall 2009 marathon project. As well, we continue to communicate actively with regional, provincial and national Sport organizations to position Thunder Bay as a host site for future sport tourism events.

Our corporate markets will see a focus on organizations that have a Thunder Bay presence and thus, more likely to host conferences. These sectors include First Nation, Education, Health Sciences, Mining and Government. We encourage local organizations to host their regional, provincial and national meetings and conferences in the city by providing marketing tools to assist them in championing the city. These include delegate bags, visitor magazines, free rental of our promotional trade show displays, and copies of our meeting and convention planner. For corporate groups looking for assistance with their efforts, please contact Rose Marie Tarnowski, Meeting and Convention Planner at

Friday, May 2, 2008

May 2008 Tourism News

New E-marketing Initiatives Launched

With over 80% of travellers turning to the internet for travel planning, Tourism Thunder Bay has recently launched two new communications tools to build visitor loyalty.

A new monthly subscription e-newsletter provides regular updates on upcoming events, lodging specials and general visitor information. Available through, visitors can read the current edition online and subscribe to future issues that are sent to the email address provided by the user.
Industry contributors can have their events and specials listed in upcoming editions be emailing Erin Brewer at Please keep your submission to 150 words or less.

Go to to read the current issue and register.

Facebook ( is the new global electronic platform for social communication. With almost 40 000 local, seven million Canadian and over 70 million worldwide users, this is an excellent means to reach potential new visitors. The Facebook group site, provides Facebook users with an interactive web portal to seek information on upcoming events, ask our travel Councillors questions online and share pictures, stories and videos of their favorite Thunder Bay experiences.

Facebook account holders can visit

Sport Tourism Developments

Candian Sport Tourism Congress

Tourism Thunder Bay recently attended the Canadian Sport Tourism Congress in Gatineau Quebec. The three day conference, held April 27-29, was a chance for over 300 delegates representing municipal and Provincial tourism marketing agencies to meet with Provincial and National Sport organizations representatives. The venue provides opportunities to raise the profile of the city as a sport tourism destination for Provincial, National and International Event hosting. With Sport Tourism being a mult Billion dollar industry in Canada, Thunder Bay has facilities and related infrastructure ideal for hosting a wide range of events.

Tourism Thunder Bay met with a number or sport organizers including Cycling Canada (BC), AthletsCAN, CPGA, Ringette Canada, BasketBall Canada, Freestyle Canada, Cross Country Canada, Soccer Canada, Ontario University Athletics and the CAN AM Fire and Police Games organizers.
Visit for more information on the organization.

New Skateboard and BMX Competition Facility

Tourism Thunder Bay is a proud supporter of the Thunder Bay Skate Coalition and their efforts in developing a world class skate and BMX plaza at Marina Park. The new plaza will provide recreational and competitive opportunities for thousands of local and regional youth, promoting physical fitness and facilitating the hosting of future skate and BMX competitions at the regional provincial and even international level.

The Thunder Bay Skate Coalition is raising funds to build the plaza and has initiaited a "Buy a Brick" campaign. Personal bricks are $100 each and corporate bricks are $500 each. To view images of the new park or to support the park's development and have you business or family name added to this unique new sport tourism facility, visit

Cruise Shipping News

As part of Tourism Thunder Bay's membership in the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition (GLCC), the department was actively involved in the 2008 Seatrade Cruise Shipping Conference held in Miami Beach Florida this past March. Hundreds of Cruise destinations and cruise shipping suppliers have the opportunity to meet with over 10 000 industry delegates in this multi billion dolalr segment of the global tourism industry.

The GLCC was successful in meeting with a number of cruise operators and as a result, a number of cruise executives will be touring the City in late June 2008 to view our attractions and marine services with the aim of bringing their vessels into the region in future years. For more information on the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, please visit

The uniqueness of Lake Superior and the establishment of the new National Marine Conservation Area adjacent to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park are attractive selling points to smaller expedition cruise operators as well as private charter vessels. Some of the trends that will be pursued include marketing unique lake itineraries to smaller expedition cruise lines as well as to the U.S Superyacht market, whose owners and operators are seeking new destinations for their vessels. This will complement work being done in select Great Lakes markets to attract the pleasure boat markets as well.

To date, Tourism Thunder Bay has been successful in attracting 11 visits by the MV Clelia II in the summer of 2009, bringing an estimated economic impact to the city of approximately $250 000. For more information on the Clelia II, please visit

Seven Days with the Giant Update

This incredibly succcessful 2008 liesure marketing campaign, focusing on the affluent outdoor experience seeker in Canada and the US midwest will be wrapping up May 31st 2008 with the winner selected in the first two weeks of June. The campaign, with a high quality grand prize package, served to increase web visitation to by over 41% over the same period in 2007.

The campaign has also served to create a new standard for public private marketing partnership in the Province with Ontario Parks and is being used as a model for other communities to follow. AS a result of the success, Tourism Thunder Bay will be creating a new and enhanced "Seven Days with the Giant" program in 2009.

If you have not yet done so, Industry partners and consumers are encouraged to enter the contest at either or before May 31, 2008.

Meetings and Convention News

Tourism Thunder Bay recently had the opportunity to meet with over 400 delegates at the Northwestern Ontario Mining Symposium held at the Valhalla Inn in March 2008. With mining exploration at record levels in the region, efforts are being made to attract more corporate business to the city in the form of meetings and conferences related to the industry.

Other segments of the corporate market Tourism Thunder Bay continues to focus on are Education, Health Sciences and First Nation organizations who have offices in Thunder Bay. By providing convention marketing tools to local groups, the aim is to increase the number of Provincial and National meetings in the city.

Skal International
Tourism Thunder Bay is pleased to be a member of SKAL International, a growing organization of travel and tourism professionals. Involvement within the local chapter provides Tourism Thunder Bay with opportunities to build stronger industry relationships, understand developments, issues and concerns of travel industry partners and communicate new Tourism Thunder Bay programs.

On Monday January 28th,2008 ,Skal International Thunder Bay, hosted an evening of celebration at the Victoria Inn and Convention Centre to celebrate the induction of local SKAL Member and owner of the Best Western Crossroads Motor Inn, Norm Bevilacqua as the 2008 SICAN President . Bill Rheaume Past President of SICAN 2007 presented President Norm with the Skal Canada Chain of Office on behalf of Skal International Canada. Norm is an enthusiastic advoate for Thunder Bay and for the regional tourism industry.
Skal is the only international organization which brings together all branches of the travel and tourism industry. Representing the industry’s managers and executives, Skal members meet at local, national and international levels in an environment of friendship to discuss subjects of common interest. The original club was started in Paris in 1932 In 1934,the Association Of International de Skal Clubs was formed.

The basic unit of the Skal Club is the local Club.In Canada there are 17 Local Clubs with a membership of approximmately 900.These 17 local Clubs comprise Skal International Canada.(SICAN). Skal International Thunder Bay received its Charter On October 1st ,1981 under the first President Brian Whitefield.Skal International Thunder Bay celebrated its 25th Anniversary on October 1st,2006. Since 1981,the spirit of friendship and co-operation within the local Club,generated may co-operative programs and exchange of ideas.The Club is proud to have received the coveted "Club of the Year" award (Canada) on three occasions 1998,1999 and the most recent for the year 2003.

The members of the Skal Thunder Bay are very proud of Norm and wish him success as President of Sican.

Visit the Skal website at
Ontario's North

Tourism Thunder Bay Manager Paul Anthony Pepe was recently appointed as Chair of Ontario's North, a tourism marketing partnership involving the City of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Ontario Tourism Marketing Parthership Corporation(, FedNor ( and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (

The organization works on pan Northern tourism marketing initiatives focusing on Leisure and Group travel, travel trade and media that benefit all of Northern Ontario.

Media Update

Lake Superior Magazine has provided editorial on the National Marine Conservation Area, the arrival of the MV Clelia in 2009 and the "Seven Days with the Giant" campaign. Visit to learn more about the magazine.

The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce features updates on some of Tourism Thunder Bay's latest marketing initiatives in the May 2008 Newsletter. Visit for more information or look for it in an upcoming edition of the Chronicle Journal

Upcoming Industry Events

Northern Ontario Travel Intentions Web Presentation

Monday May 5, 2008,
1:30 PM
To log into the audio component call 1-866-234-0247 and use participant code 123745
For web inquiries, email or call 1-866-861-2121