Friday, July 24, 2009

Public Art and Green Scapes Add to the Aesthetics of the Community

In the past couple of years, public art and green space improvements have started to play a bigger role in the evolution of Thunder Bay's cultural, social and economic fabric. From the creation of the Clean Green and Beautiful initiative, with a mandate to improve the aesthetics of the community, to increased exposure of organizations such as Eco Superior and various community arts groups, Thunder Bay's cultural and economic revolution is exciting.
This directly impacts Thunder Bay's tourism economy positively in that these initiatives improve the aesthetics of the community and speak to its cultural roots. These elements are important to making first impressions on visitors and even influence their decision to extend their stay or return. People want to visit where there is positive energy. Its a simple as that.

Public Art at Marina Park, murals within the downtown cores, the raised gardens added to the water street bus terminal and the soon to be started public green space at the newly renovated City Hall are all positive contributors to improving the look of the city and increasing the urban "vibe", that sense of positive energy that residents and visitors alike absorb. These initiatives are also considered part of the city's sustainable tourism strategy by creating exciting public green spaces and creating opportunities for the local arts community.

Pool 6 is a prime example. Docking a 5 star expedition cruise ship at a former industrial site currently under environmental assessment has posed challenges. Without the ability to complete permanent infrastructure such as landscaping and paving until the outcome of the assessment, we have cut the grass, installed planters along the dock, painted and installed welcome gateway signage. We've erected a tipi to celebrate our Anishnawbic Roots and have actually encouraged visitors to stroll through the spray painted rubble piles to take pictures of the "graffiti art", a public and impromptu art display that has actually become an attraction for the vessel passengers rather than a perceived eyesore to us.

While the city and a collection of like minded organizations have lead the way, there is a role for everyone. It always irks me to read people complaining about the "costs" of these initiatives rather than seeing them as investments in community development and its sad to see such short sightedness from folks who are all too often, the last to roll up their sleeves and do their part to make the city better. Who doesn't want to see a city become more attractive? Yes, the city has areas that need attention and guess what? So does every other small, medium and large city in North America right now. We've seen investments made in eradicating derelict buildings and allowing lands to become redeveloped. We see public and community gardens springing up and we're seeing more people doing their part. My job takes me to all corners of North America annually and I can honestly say, we're ahead of so many other cities.

In the tourism industry, there is so much that each of us can do to improve the "vibe" for visitors. Planting gardens and trees and commissioning local artists to paint murals that celebrate our heritage. It can also include bundling a night's stay at a hotel with local cuisine and a trip to Magnus theatre, the symphony or a stop at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Improving your business's green aesthetics does not have to be costly either. A trip to a garden center and a staff planting day are all it takes to do ones part.

Exciting times are upon us in the City and the tourism industry has a chance to make its mark on improving the cultural vibe of the City. There has been a lot of work done and a lot more to do but the city current economic and cultural environment have allowed it to become one big blank canvas with room for more creative and positive influences to shine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

June 2009 Terry Fox Visitor Center Stats Released

Visitation to the Terry Fox Visitor Information center in June 2009 saw a 10% decline over June 2008, slipping to 3495 from 3888 the previous year.

Most of the decline was from domestic (-10%) and overseas travel (-33%). domestic visitors declined from 3075 to 2780 while overseas traffic plummeted from 224 to 150.

U.S. traffic, however was not as seriously affected, dropping only 4%, from 589 in 2008 to 565 in 2009.

However, increased web usage and visitor magazine circulation may indicate different sources of information gathering habits for visitors to the community.

New Tool for Tourism Businesses to Become Greener

Doing business in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable way is a lot more than just a good marketing and public relations move - its also good for your long term bottom line.

Earthwise Thunder Bay has just released a new tool to help local businesses become greener in their operations. The Net Zero business guide to green business is available in print and online to provide an assessment and implementation tool to encourage the business community to see the benefits of going green. There has been a myth that going green is not necessarily good for an individual businesses bottom line but ultimately, reduction in utility costs and the implementation of sound practices reduces overhead and can actually attract new clients.

Being environmentally responsible does not mean we give up on developing and promoting the activities we hold dear or are a staple of our tourism economy. It does not mean we stop snowmobiling, ATVing, dirt biking or other activities that on the surface, appear to be contradictory to the principals of environmentally responsible tourism. It means we adapt practices to reduce emissions and employ practices to the best of our abilities, to minimize impacts. For angling, it means the use of newer energy efficient outboards and self imposed conservation limits on angling and ensuring the longevity of breeding stock. As a convertible touring enthusiast myself, I don't have to give my passion. My contribution and that of others in my leisure group is to ensure our autos are tuned properly, time pressure is appropriate and other practices to maximize fuel mileage. While out on tours, we support local restaurants serving local foods and promote parks and recreational areas for stops and destinations.

Tourism Thunder Bay has adopted the principals of sustainable tourism as a foundation statement and believes that creating partnerships in sustainable tourism will elevate the community's image within the tourism industry itself and ultimately to the consumer base that is looking at environmentally and socially sustainable destinations in which to take their next vacation, conference or sport event. After all, we are one of Canada's best outdoor cities and to become an urban leader in sustainable tourism places us in a unique strategic position.

You can learn more about Net Zero and what you can do at

Friday, July 17, 2009 Sees Massive Traffic Increase in 2009

Having a aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate web presence supported by great search engine optimization and linked to leading edge social web media is integral to survival and Tourism Thunder Bay's central marketing hub, is playing a key role in helping the city's tourism economy weather the changes in the tourism environment.

The launch of a new easier to navigate site in March of 2009 has played a key role. There are a number of reasons for this impressive statistic and includes the new easier to navigate site. However, it goes far beyond this and is also the result of web based media campaigns driving traffic to the site, improved search engine optimization and innovative online contests designed to introduce users to the information resources in a fun way. We've also encouraged more of our partners to link to our site, creating a cross marketing environment that benefits everyone.

Our aggressive public relations campaign and fantastic relationship with our media partners has seen Tourism Thunder Bay featured in over 225 media interviews this year alone, spanning all media channels and regions, including local, regional and national radio, web, print and television. Many of these stories end up in the web and help propel Thunder Bay to the top of the searches, which in turns, generates more buzz about, what is quickly becoming, one of Canada's best outdoor cities.

We've been pioneers in the public sector application of social web based collaborative media in Canada - and likely most of North America - by introducing Facebook, Twitter and Blogging platforms to support our web campaign, capitalizing on their ease of use and huge audiences to connect with a wider range of potential visitors in a cost effective, targeted and fun framework. Making good impressions is about building relationships with the consumer and that is what these platforms allow us to do. In an age where almost all government agencies and most major corporations consider the use of social media in the work place a drain on productivity, we've embraced the technology and re-written the rule book on social media policy in the public sector marketing world (truthfully, we burned the rule book). The results have become successful communication platforms to reach our core demographics more effectively.

We're watching the web tracker daily now and when we hit 1 million visits, likely sometime in mid August, we'll be sure to celebrate a milestone in municipal level tourism marketing that all of our partners can be proud of.

Superior Pedicabs Fills Unique Niche in Thunder Bay's Sustainable Tourism Economy

With almost 1400 businesses in Thunder Bay drawing upon tourism for their livelihood in one way or another, I get a chance to meet and profile a wide range of local entrepreneurs who help create a more vibrant tourism economy.

Gord Soloway is the owner of Superior Pedicabs, a new business that started in the spring of 2008 to offer visitors to the downtown areas a unique transportation option for seeing the city in the summer. Gord operates several pedicabs, unique three wheel bikes that seat two passengers and have a driver up front peddling them around. The cabs can be seen driving all around Thunder Bay and in particular, are found at most major events such as Summer in the Parks and Bluesfest.

This year, Gord added bicycle rentals to his growing business and has been part of our cruise ship strategy for passengers wishing to explore the city on their own while in port. Gord has about a half dozen specially configured bikes that are adaptable to all sorts of users and on any given port of call, people are using them to explore the park and the city. Gord's drivers are set up dockside at Pool 6 at each call ready to provide a unique experience.

Gord's human powered transportation business is an important contributor to building Thunder Bay into a sustainable tourism leader, the experiences he makes available helps enrich visitor stays in the city and generate more tourism revenues. The more opportunities that are available for visitors, the longer they are likely to stay.

If you have a chance at explore the city by Pedicab or on one of his unique bikes, you'll see the city in a whole new great way. If you are an event host or hotel operator, contact Gord at to learn how you can enhance your visitor's experiences with this fantastic leisurely transportation option.

You can learn more about Gord and his business at

Local Partners Help Make Cruise Visitors Feel Welcome

Tourism Thunder Bay has been privileged to work with a vast array of community partners in bringing the cruise industry back to downtown Port Arthur.

Welcoming the vessel, crew and passengers to the community has been a priority for us and we have been thrilled to work with a couple of organizations who are dedicating and volunteering their time to help roll out the red carpet for our special guests.

Cindy Crowe of the Waabi-ma'iingan (Grey Wolf) Traditional Teaching Lodge has worked hard to coordinate a welcoming committee, dancers, singers and drummers for each visit. Her and her volunteers have crafted welcome cards for all of this summer's guests that include a sweet grass pin, Thunder Bay and Canada Pin. The cards have become a huge hit among passengers.

Working with Cindy are members of Opportunity Thunder Bay, a collection of local residents from all walks of life who want to do things to make the city a better place to live, work and invest. Brothers John and Jason Susin have been huge cheerleaders for the community and are here every morning to greet the ship.

We've also had a number of Drum groups, coordinated by David Simard, performing while passengers disembark the vessel each morning, giving a warm welcome and photo opportunity.

Tourism Thunder Bay can't thank these great folks enough for their commitment to making Thunder Bay a more welcoming city and for the passengers, owners and crew of the Clelia II, it sends a message to them about how important they are to us. We can do a lot and we can do a whole lot more working together and these groups are proof of that.

To learn more about the Teaching Lodge, email Cindy Crowe at To learn more about Opportunity Thunder Bay, search for their group at

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thunder Bay Hotel Performance Holds Ground in the First Half of 2009.

The Thunder Bay city and district hotel occupancies paint a bright spot in what nationally, is a gloomy year in the hotel industry. The latest report from HVS, the national hotel performance tracking gurus, shows year to date performance for the Thunder Bay area at 0.0%.

While stagnation year over year is not usually anything to get excited about, this number is important in that is one of only three markets in Canada that have not reported declines in year to date room demand over 2008. Montreal downtown has also reported 0.0% and Windsor reported a staggering 5.6% growth. Everyone else, however, is down. The weekly reports for June paint mixed results but still, much better performance than other Canadian markets. with the unprecedented challenges facing the Canadian tourism economy this year, our performance measurement is not going to be based as much on past years but rather, how we are statistically performing against other cities. Stagnation this year should be looked at as being a good as growth.

For the Thunder Bay the shift has been largely due to healthy corporate travel markets and significant business within the meeting and convention segment. Tourism Thunder Bay is a member of Ontario's North a collective involving the City, Timmins, North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie. The group has worked on cooperative campaigns focused on travel trade, travel media, corporate and touring. In 2008, we disbanded the corporate marketing element of the partnership to focus on Thunder Bay and its strategic advantages over over northern Ontario cities. The results have been an enormous increase in leads starting in 2008 that we have determined has had a role in maintaining healthy traffic patterns in an challenging economic environment.

We estimate that June to September performance will be moderately decreased due to the decreased corporate markets over the summer vacation months and a general trend in decreased leisure travel. However, early indications for the fourth quarter paint a busy fall and winter for the corporate and sport tourism markets.

We are working on innovative ways to help fuse the corporate and elisure markets togetheer through the marketing of the city as a destination with a difference - the chance for meeting and conference participants to get out of the hotel and meeting rooms to explore the cities attraactions, galleries and culinary treasures. We started this program with the Canadian Armed Forces SAREX conference in October 2008 by having a concierge booth at the conference headquarters, providing information to the event participant on restaurants, golf, fishing, kayaking and other side trips they could take. Mixing business with wellness activities is an emerging trend and one that will continue to set us apart from other cities.

You can track local hotel performance yourself and read the HSV weekly reports at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Major Tender & Construction Work with Waterfront

The City of Thunder Bay has begun tender releases to form Stage 1 – Phase 1 for the redevelopment of Prince Arthur’s Landing. Construction is set to begin immediately following Labour Day.

The first tender was released on July 9 for the Marine Works, which includes an interlocking sheet wall, lake in-fill, break wall construction, minor dredging and the marina dock retrofit. This construction will form the base on which Prince Arthur’s Landing will take shape.
The second tender was released today for architectural fencing. The custom steel picket fence has been designed to maximize visual impact and begin to frame the spectacular landscape being created.

The third tender, under the initial phase of construction, will be released on July 15 under the initial phase of construction. It is for major Civil Infrastructure that consists of water main, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and miscellaneous electrical elements required to service the site.
This multi-million dollar construction contract is scheduled to be completed by summer 2010. All three tenders have been designed to maximize local involvement and use local materials.

Visitors to Marina Park will already notice the changes occurring. From the revamped festival area opened two years ago to our new leading edge skate and BMX plaza, several key attractions are now on line. Over the past month, contractors have been busy stripping the paint from the historic CN baggage building and redying it for restoration and renovations (see pic). These areas will provide additional activities for local residents and play an important part of the visitor retention strategy for the city, giving people a chance to stay in the city a little longer. more importantly, it will connect residents and visitors to the iconic Lake Superior like never before.

To learn more about Thunder Bay's incredible new waterfront development initiative, visit Visit the site often as updates are added.

Up! Magazine Announces Thunder Bay's 2009 Value Award Winners

Up!, Westjet's ( in flight magazine has rolled out its annual value awards for 2009, picking 300 "must dos" in the markets it serves.

Thunder Bay has been well represented in this year's selection and includes accolades on the Valhalla Inn (, Fort William Historical Park (, Whitewater Golf Club(, Thunder Bay Museum (, Thunder Bay Blues Festival (, Loch Lomond Ski Area (, Kangas Sauna, Tony and Adams, Prospector Steak House, Hoito ( and the Madhouse Tavern and Grill.

The value awards are determined from feedback from Westjet flyers and the accolades speak well to the cross section and calibre of Thunder Bay's attractions, event, accommodation and culinary partners. Congratulations to all of those that made the cut and a big thanks to Red Point Media, Up's producers and Westjet for providing the additional exposure for some of Thunder Bay's exceptionally high quality tourism partners.

To read more online, visit

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bay And Algoma Merchants Roll Out New Welcome Signage

The Bay and Algoma Business district has long benefited from its association with its most famous neighbor, the iconic Hoito Restaurant. It is because of this that the area has become a mecca of sorts for visitors to the community and the blocks around the Hoito are filled with galleries, other restaurants and lounges and specialty retailers offering unique products and experiences.

The recognition of the area as a visitor attraction is something not lost on the Bay & Algoma Business Improvement Association and under the leadership of the association's new President, Norm Sponchia of Villedge Art Gallery (, they are taking steps to make it even more welcoming for visitors.

I had a chance today to walk around the area with Norm where earlier in the day, they erected a stunning new entrance sign to the central Bay Street Block, identifying the area as a historic neighborhood and dressing up a vacant lot formerly operated as a fuel retailer. While a seemingly modest undertaking, its importance is not lost. Good and aesthetically pleasing signage improves business areas by marking them prominently, welcomes visitors and sets the stage for what hopefully becomes a common theme throughout the other business improvement areas. Produced by Brad Hominick Productions, the signage features a golden Sleeping Giant that radiates when hit by sunlight.

What this demonstrates is that improvements to a community to make it more visually attractive to visitors do not have to be expensive. Good signage, painted buildings, swept sidewalks, cut grass and flowers go a long long way to attracting positive attention and increased economic benefits. It also shows the power of small businesses working together. Hats off to Norm and other area business owners for taking the initiative to make the area more aesthetically pleasing and capitalizing on their historic significance. Check out to learn more about the area.

Five Things You Can Do to Make Your Tourism Business More Sustainable

Environmental, social and economic sustainability are the corner stones to building a strong and healthy regional tourism economy for the long term. Not only do these principals make for great public relations, they create long term operating efficiencies for your business. Pursuing sustainability doesn't have to mean giving up the experiences we provide either.

Here are 5 simple things your tourism business can do to pursue sustainability.

1. Use low wattage light bulbs. Replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with low energy bulbs, especially in large operations, brings substantial long term savings on your electricity bill. Check out to learn more about ways your business can save electricity. In fact, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has a great financial assistance program for businesses to help them make the switch to alternative energy sources. Visit or call the local Ministry office for more details.

2. Buy local foods whenever possible - while not always in season or always as inexpensive as bulk goods trucked in, the effects are positive. local produced foods are fresher and are not trucked halfway across the province or continent contributing to increased exhaust emissions. Buying local creates economic opportunities for the local agricultural industry and more and more visitors seek local produced foods when they travel-even if it means they are priced as a premium experience. Check out the Thunder Bay Country Market to learn more about the food producers right here in the community. and are two great sites to learn more about utilizing local ingredients.

3. Greenery - Plant trees and gardens around your tourism Establishment. Not only do trees look good, they help cleanse the air we all breath. Gardens provide an aesthetically pleasing first impression from your customers, give them a place to relax while visiting you and if you're really a green thumb, grow your own herbs and vegetables as well. For the arrival of the Clelia II this year, we installed planters along the dock until our environmental assessment allows us to complete the permanent landscaping and site work. The result is an aesthetically attractive welcome and a distraction for staff to get away from their desks to water and care for the plants for 5 minutes a day. for more information or visit one of Thunder Bay's many nurseries and landscape supply retailers including Landale, Creekside, Trevisanuttos, Debruins, Vanderwees and Bill Martins to get some inspiration.

4. Showcase works by local artisans. Thunder Bay has an amazing arts and culture scene, with hundreds or artists working in a variety of creative mediums. Display their work in your establishment, make it available for sale and promote local galleries to your guests. At Tourism Thunder Bay we make it a practice to buy a number of locally produced art pieces annually as gifts for visiting dignitaries and speakers. Supporting the local cultural industries helps grow a strong local economy across a broader range of entrepreneurs. A visit to links you to the Regional Arts Council.

5. Request Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved paper for your printing needs. While the massive shift towards web based media helps reduce our reliance on paper, print materials will always have a place in business to some degree. when printing envelopes, brochures or guest magazines, request your printer use FSC approved stock. While there may be a premium on this paper now, hopefully, the costs come down as more people demand it and producers listen. to learn more.

Want to know more about sustainable tourism? Visit You'll discover that any tourism operation, urban or remote, can learn from the principals of the organization and adapt them to their own business.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Talking Staycations With CBC

Tourism Thunder Bay will be featured on this weekend's edition of Cross Country Check Up with Rex Murphy on CBC Radio 1.

The North American tourism industry is facing unprecedented changes and challenges and moving or tourism industry forward requires creative and proactive solutions. Some of the things we've been doing to help Thunder Bay weather the tourism industry environment have included the shift to consumer researched marketing strategies that focus on experiences rather than the destination, industry leading engagement of social media and the promotion of the city to the local markets to encourage greater awareness and appreciation for the diversity of the tourism experiences that exist here. We live on the shore of the world's greatest fresh water lake and only minutes to some of the planets most exotic wilderness and geography. We have to recognize how lucky we are and share it with others.

With tourism being a $183 million annual industry here, employing 2000 people and affecting over 1400 businesses, its important to our community's evolving economy. One of our biggest allies has been the local, regional media who have continuously kept tourism front and center, whether its industry news, attractions or events, it all helps build local awareness of just what exists around us.

With over 28% of visitors coming here to visit friends and family, it makes perfect sense to build awareness among the local population and to encourage the growth of local Ambassadors - people who can help welcome their Friends and family,who can attract a meeting or conference for the business or organization or host a sports tournament here. With fuel prices high, passport requirements and tightening household budgets, its the perfect time to rediscover the city with a staycation. Visit the Fort, Sleeping Giant Park, or the Art Gallery. Wander through the farmer's market or take the kids to the skateboard Park of Boulevard Lake. There are hundreds of things to do in our own back yard. If we experience them ourselves, we can share them with our out of town guests.

Its widely known that we provide cases of our magazines and trade show displays to local residents who want to be ambassadors. We even provide guidance and advice to groups bidding on meetings and sport events, helping them help us.

To sell Thunder Bay to the world, we have to sell it to ourselves as well.

To listen to the podcast, visit and download the July 12 episode.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Motor Coach Operators Get New Tour Ideas In Thunder Bay

Tourism Thunder Bay is getting ready to roll out the red carpet for a group of motor coach operators from Ontario and the U.S. this afternoon. Ironically, the five are flying into the city rather than driving on a coach but while here, they'll tour some of Thunder Bay's iconic visitor attractions and learn a little about the city's hidden gems - those important little attractions and events that are key to visitor retention.

The motor coach market has rebounded with the increase in fuel prices as mature travellers look to exploring without having to burn fuel in their personal vehicles. These pay one price adventures appeal to a wide boomer demographic and our location on the Lake Superior Circle Tour as well as on the Trans Canada journey give us a strategic advantage as a stop over location.

This is one of a number of group travel and media familiarization trips the City is welcoming in 2009 with an increased focus on working with the travel trade. Attracting cruise ships, motor coaches and caravan groups such as RVs and motorcycle tourers translates into hundreds and even thousands of visitors coming in with the same marketing investment as attracting individual travellers.

This familiarization tour is a partnership the City has in Ontario's North, a collective including the City, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay, Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and FedNor. The collective leverages funding to allow Northern Ontario Cities to have a greater marketing presence in the travel trade, touring and media segments.

Project Healing Waters Set to Welcome more U.S. and Canadian Military Heros this Weekend.

Thunder Bay has been chosen as the launch site of the second annual Healing On The Albany event scheduled for July 10 through the17th.

“After last year’s exceptional welcome, we did not even consider any other city from which to begin our Canadian adventure” said Mark Snyder, event coordinator for the organization Project Healing Waters. The non profit group was founded by a retired U.S. military officer – Ed Nichols - to assist wounded soldiers in their physical and psychological healing after battle field trauma. “Learning and practicing the art of fly fishing offers these soldiers a peaceful place to acquire the skills of angling” Snyder said.

In July 2008 soldiers from both the U.S. and Canada were officially welcomed to Thunder Bay and then to Miminiska Lodge a Wilderness North Fly In Fishing destination on the Albany river.

The ten soldiers in this year’s event have all be selected by “Soldier On” in Canada and by Project Healing Waters in the U.S. to enjoy a week in the boreal forest of Northwestern Ontario, after suffering serious injuries in foreign wars.

During their stay last year, soldiers were also special guests at the Fort Hope’s Eabamatoong First Nation Pow Wow, and honored in a special community wide ceremony. Plans include another such ceremony this year.

“However, it’s mostly R&R” said Snyder as he reviewed his list of gifts from the public in general in the form of cash contributions, and from organizations like Orvis Company who donate the fly fishing tackle, and American Airlines who provide the flying for the U.S soldiers. Snyder goes on, “The key to the entire project is the gift from Wilderness North. Alan and Krista Cheeseman provide the wilderness flying, the lodge, the food and the boats and guides and their staff treats these soldiers like royalty.”

Tourism Thunder Bay is once again supporting Project Healing Waters through media coordination and related services. “Thunder Bay has developed a phenomenal reputation as a warm and welcoming community. We are proud to help support this project by welcoming these brave Canadian and U.S. service personnel into our community and thanking them for their service.” according to Paul Pepe, Manager of Tourism Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay’s Victoria Inn has donated rooms for the arriving soldiers on July 10 and will host a press conference breakfast scheduled for 8:30 A.M. on Saturday July 11. More information on Project Healing Waters can be found at or at

Contact: Wayne Blackmon Wilderness North 888-465-3474
Mark Snyder- Project Healing Waters – 301-325-1312

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thunder Bay Heralds a new era of Cruise Shipping

At 7:30 AM on Friday July 3rd, the M.V. Clelia II, slipped past the main light in Thunder Bay harbour and proceeded to the Pool 6 cruise ship dock to berth for the next 9 hours. With her horns blasting through the calm sunny morning, she awakened Thunder Bay with her arrival and awakened a new era in cruise shipping for the community. Judging by the 500 or so residents who came to the dock to watch her throughout the day, her wake up call was a welcome sound.

The arrival of the Clelia II marks a fantastic new relationship with New York based Travel Dynamics, ( the vessel's charterer. The vessel will be making 11 scheduled stops in the city over the next 2 1/2 months to allow passengers the opportunity to explore the community. While in the community, the vessel's guests will be touring Fort William Historical Park (, the Forest Research Station and have opportunities to rent bicycles dockside or tour the shopping districts by motor coach shuttle or on their own. The vessel is a stunning and luxurious boutique expedition cruising vessel and offers its 100 guests an incredibly high level of service. The itineraries give guests the chance to learn more about the communities they visit and that has provided us the opportunity to showcase our unique attributes, including the exciting realities of a city in economic transition.

Its also historic for Tourism Thunder Bay and the city in general. Its the first passenger vessel to dock at the 100 year old Pool 6 dock and makes the start of the sites transformation to major Great Lakes cruise shipping facility. This spring, Transport Canada mandated security and safety upgrades, concrete dock repairs, site grading, painting, leveling of topsoil and seeding took place to create a functional and practical staging are to accommodate the vessel to Transport Canada security standards and create a convenient location to service the vessels. The proximity of Tourism Thunder Bay's main administration center on the property has also given us the ability to create a comfortable area for the vessel's crews to sit, check emails and enjoy a coffee while ashore.
Because Tourism Thunder Bay manages the facility, it gives us the control and flexibility to attract new lines without having to juggle passenger traffic within the health and safety challenges posed by docking at industrial facilities. We can now respond quickly and with greater flexibility to meeting the needs of the industry and in attracting more vessels. While this new undertaking is a significant addition to the responsibilities of Tourism Thunder Bay, management of the facility through a division with a focused economic development and tourism focus will be essential to its long term success.

While the approximately 100 passengers who will visit the city on Clelia II this year may sound small compared to the 652 000 visitors the city receives annually, it is in fact a very important part of two growing segments in the tourism industry -expedition cruise shipping and group travel. The economic impact of the Clelia's visit to the City is estimated at over $521 000 this summer as the vessel touches more than 30 businesses and organizations from security, waste management and water supply companies to attractions, retail, motor coach operators, stevedores and vessel management firms. In fact, when one looks at the number of people involved in the welcoming of the vessel over 11 days, its the equivalent of almost two full time jobs annually.

Long term, however, the cruise shipping industry offers phenomenal potential for Thunder Bay to position itself as a major expedition cruising hub for the Great Lakes. Our airport infrastructure, the newly announced Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area and the abundance of stunning and unique natural environment and history of human settlement around the lake basin gives this the potential to become one of the world's next hot expedition cruise shipping markets. Eleven hundred visitors can become twenty five hundred and can become five thousand before long if we continue to make the necessary investment in our dock infrastructure. Becoming a hub for the cruise shipping industry means vessels start or end their itineraries here. This translates into hotel rooms for passengers flying in or out of the city, new airport and airline business, new opportunities for vessel servicing companies, grocers and others. This means an economic impact that expands almost four fold over the same vessel making day stops only. It also opens opportunities to smaller communities along the lake shore regionally as smaller vessels can dock or anchor close by and offer their guests unique experiences shore side as well.

However, getting us to July 3rd took the work of a phenomenal number of organizations, businesses and people across North America. They include Travel Dynamics, Navitrans, Stephen Burnett of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition, William Hryb of Lakehead Shipping, Canadian Border Services, Transport Canada, Lake Superior Visits, Thunder Bay Tug Services, Thunder Bay Port Authority, Winning Streak Charters and Caribou Coach, Signs Now, Superior Pedicabs, Opportunity Thunder Bay and all of our local and international media partners who helped general public support for this fantastic development.

For me personally, this has been the culmination of almost 6 years of personal passion for the potential of Great Lakes Cruising. Seeing the vessel dock effortlessly on July 3rd was only the start of what will become a great addition to our city's waterfront.