What if we, as Tourism marketers, thought like the consumers we are trying to attract?
Well first, we'd realize that consumers don't care about geopolitical boundaries and even most of them don't even think about the destination first. They care about the experience! 75% of travellers seek an experience first, with the most suitable destination for that experience following up the rear. Only 25% of travellers seek a destination (think Vegas!)
When we market the city, the region or the Province, we need to realize that these destinations don't really mean too much. Thunder Bay district, Northwestern Ontario, etc are all labels from a by gone era where political boundaries made for a convenient border around a organized regional travel association.
Well if I may be so bold, the reality is that the consumer doesn't really care. We need to start aligning our partnerships around the way people research, choose and execute their travel experience by forming alliances along the commonality of experience and the travel corridors to get there. high quality angling and hunting, eco tourism and snow mobiling extends beyond district boundaries. Touring routes for the growing motorcycle, RV and auto club markets need to align together as well (how many little individual Lake Superior regional associations are there promoting their little stretch of road?)
As for travel corridors, looking at the road, water and air routes people typically use is also important and cities like Thunder Bay, Fort Frances and Kenora play a vital role in being gateway centers for experience seekers to rest, eat, stock up on supplies, sight see or rent a car. U.S Midwest markets head up highway 61 into the city, air travellers access the region through our exceptional airport facility, our port is growing a reputation for hosting cruise ships and private yachts alike.
As we move into a new era of tourism marketing and management in Northern Ontario, we need to think in these terms to form new alliances that break down traditional tourism marketing boundaries and giuve consumers more of what they want. We already have a good inventory of the product people are looking for and we're talking more with each other across those old political boundaries. Lets just put the bow on it.