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

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