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

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