Saturday, January 16, 2010

Canada's Great Outdoors Begins in Canada's Great Outdoor City

On Friday January 15,th, Ontario Tourism Minister Monique Smith kicked off a new and innovative partnership program with a host of regional, provincial and national partners, both private and public sector, to expand upon our region's strategic tourism direction that will help position Thunder Bay as Canada's best outdoor city.

"Canada's Great Outdoors" is OTMPC's U.S. market multi media marketing campaign to promote Northwestern Ontario's outdoor experiences as being the best. This is a natural alignment with our local strategy and has provided a great opportunity to increase brand awareness in key U.S. markets.

This year, Canada's Great Outdoors is sponsored by Tourism Thunder Bay, ensuring our position as a gateway city is front and centre throughout the campaign. We've gone one step further by proclaiming that "Canada's Great Outdoors Begins in Canada's Great Outdoor City." through a dedicated landing page at This site takes visitors to all of the suppliers and services that relate to their outdoor experience. There's even a special sector for travel deals for visitors who fly in and need to provision themselves in the city and links to both Sunset Country and the North of Superior Travel Region (

This campaign is being supported by a number of private sector partners including the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority and Porter Airlines, companies that have great brand recognition and share our vision for innovation and an entrepreneurial approach to new market development. Porter Airlines ( is offering 10% off air travel from the Chicago area to Thunder Bay all summer long for travel booked by January 27th. We'll be launching several radio campaigns with sponsors Porter, Wilderness North ( Golf (, Golf Thunder Bay (, Valhalla Inn (, National Car Rental and others that will improve our name recognition and brand and create unique suggested itineraires that combine outdoor and urban experiences.

So why would a city sponsor a pan northern program dedicated to the outdoors? What's in it for the city?

The answer is. Lots.

It starts with an economic development theory called clustering. Many of Thunder Bay's 1400 businesses that rely on tourism receipts have a connection to the outdoor experience in some way. This forms a tourism industry cluster of businesses that all have some degree of role and support each other in many cases.

At the core is the experience. In this case, outdoor experiences. The primary ring around that is attractions that cater to the core experience such as parks, lodges, trails, charter boat operators and the like. The next ring are the supporting businesses such as hotels, restaurants, outdoor equipment and power sport retailers with the next ring being comprised of ancillary and complimentary attractions that can include golf, events, urban attractions and other things. The final or tertiary ring is comprised of all the businesses that work behind the scenes to support tourism including insurance and legal, food supply chain, screen printers, marketers and others that the consumer does not see yet whose success depends on the health of the tourism economy.

Almost equally important is that the Canada's Great Outdoors program aligns with our strategy around the outdoor experiences. This is the #1 travel motivator for North American leisure markets and the top experiences encompass what we offer at our door step. Thunder Bay is a natural part of their travel pattern, a hub if you will, and tens of thousands of visitors going into the region pass through the city. We have an opportunity to maximize the economic impacts through improving visitor retention. There are services and attractions here that the smaller communities closer to their experience don't have. In many cases, the experience themselves are on our doors steps such as parks, angling and a number of outfitters who use Thunder Bay as a base.

Our alignment with this program, through the Northern Ontario Tourism Strategy, recognizes the commonality of tourism experiences and markets in Northwestern Ontario. The visitor does not care about travel regions based on political boundaries. They simply want a trophy experience.

Our participation in the program has leveraged over $450 000 in marketing value support from OTMPC, CTC, and other partners. In these days of fiscal restraint, a 10 to 1 leverage ration is exceptional value.

Strategically, we have a longer term big picture approach to this program. The recently announced realignment of Ontario's Travel region will mean that the Northwest region will have to work closer together around our commonalities to develop product, educate our industry and market our experiences with a more unified and professional approach to ensure we are successful on the global stage. Our regional involvement is a show of support for the entire regional industry and our contribution to a program that will bring benefit to the whole region. When the region does well, the city does well and vise versa. Its imperative that we put our natural protectionist tendencies around our traditional boundaries aside and pull our resources together.

We've had great response so far at the Pheasant Run All Canada Show from operators across the region, even those whose clients don't typically use Thunder Bay as a gateway but understand how we have to pool our resources together in the northwest constructively and creatively.

Consumer response has been great as well. Being the only city at the show, we're getting a lot of positive comments and interest from Chicago area consumers, including a few celebrities, so our brand awareness with avid and affluent consumers is increasing.

We have the ingredients to become known as one of the planet's most exotic travel destinations for the outdoor avid markets. We just need to combine those ingredients to speak to our consumers with a confidence that what we have is world class.

We've seen a lot of success already in two years of partnerships with OTMPC and others and this is another example of what we see as innovative partnership building to move our city and region ahead. Its not going to happen overnight but as I like to say: "There's two good times to plant a tree. 20 years ago and today."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vote Thunder Bay onto MONOPOLY Canada Game

Mayor Lynn Peterson is encouraging all residents, as well as their friends and families, to support Thunder Bay in the quest tobe featured on the new MONOPOLY Canada Board Game by voting

“We want to rally our citizens to put Thunder Bay on the board,” said MayorPeterson. “This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our unique city on agame that is recognized and loved around the world. I encourage allresidents to vote for Thunder Bay each day and also to encourage theirfriends and families to support Thunder Bay in this quest. Let’sdemonstrate our civic pride by voting to get Thunder Bay its rightful placeon MONOPOLY Canada!”

Thunder Bay is one of 65 Canadian cities that will compete for a spot onthe MONOPOLY Canada game board. Hasbro, the makers of MONOPOLY, havecreated an online nationwide vote to choose Canada’s 22 favourite citiesfor the new MONOPOLY Canada edition that will be released this summer.

Voting began online at midnight on Jan. 11 at are invited to cast their ballots for three cities each day ofthe vote, which will be open until Feb. 7, 2010. The city that receives themost votes will be placed on the highest rent property traditionally heldby Boardwalk.

The 20 cities that receive the most votes will be part of MONOPOLY historyas the first cities selected to be on the Canadian game board through aconsumer vote. However, two spaces on the board will be reserved for citiesthat are nominated through a wild card vote, which means any city in Canadacan be nominated for these property spaces. Once the top 20 city vote iscomplete, the top 10 nominated wild card cities will also be put to a voteand the wild card winners will occupy the low-rent property spacestraditionally held by Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue. The wild cardvote will take place from Feb. 8 until Feb. 21.
The cities voted onto the final game board will be announced in June 2010.The new MONOPOLY Canada Edition will be available in stores in summer 2010.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Accessibility Awareness Training Provides the Tools for Better Service

Approximately 16% of travellers have an accessibility requirement and with an aging population of vibrant adventure seekers, that percentage is likely to rise. People don't necessarily stop travelling because of of an accessibility requirement.

For those in the tourism industry, understanding the variety of accessibility requirements from our guests is an essential pillar of good customer service and having a regional reputation for spectacular customer service is a key ingredient to becoming a premium destination of choice. Visitors want to travel where they are welcomed and being accessible opens our doors to an estimated 61 million North Americans alone. Being accessibility aware is also being phased in under new Ontario legisislation as a mandatory training requirement for businesses and public sector alike.

For us in Thunder Bay, we're pretty proud of the reputation we have as an accessible city. From a 100% accessible municipal transit fleet to new accessible website, other communities look to us as a benchmark.

Understanding how to properly welcome visitors with a wide variety of physical and developmental accessibility requirements has been made easy through tools provided by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. Their new portal, is a great resource.

For many public sector agencies in Ontario, all employees must be trained in accessibility awareness by January 1, 2010 and training for new employees must be completed as soon as possible once hired. For the private sector, that deadline is January 1, 2012. I'm pretty proud that the entire team at Tourism Thunder Bay has completed this training and we're better able to service all of our clients that much better. For those in the hospitality industry, there's no time like now to aquaint yourselves with the legislation and the training tools provided that make it very easy to improve awareness among everyone within your organization. For us, we've taken self guided interactive DVDs to provide flexible training in the office around busy and diverse work schedules.

I encourage all tourism partners who haven't taken advantage of the training tools to start now. Share with your staff and even family, talk about it and identify the goals you need and want to reach to make the visitor experience top notch for all guests.

Visit for more information.

October Border Crossing Results Released

Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada have completed their analysis of the October 2009 crossing data at the Pigeon River Border Crossing and the results show a downward trend for the month but some optimism for the year overall.

After a very strong September, Only 3997 U.S. residents crossed into the Thunder Bay district, versus 4898 the previous October, a drop of approximately 18%. The drop was identified across all travel categories, with 1363 day trippers (down 12%), 338 single overnight (down 20%) and 2296 2 plus night stays (down 16%). While disappointing, these numbers reflect the general trends across Canada. Possible contributors to this trend are the high Canadian dollar during October, continued uncertainty around the U.S. economy, and a likely trend that, given the cold summer and fall, travel patterns may have shifted towards warmer locales earlier than normal.

However, year to date traffic to the end of October, at 88 677 U.S residents, is only down 0.9% for the year over 2008. the summer's performance can be attributed to a strong circle touring season with increases in key experience demographics such as motorcycle touring. For 2010, Tourism Thunder Bay is expanding its presence in the U.S. AAA web and print media to keep building on this success.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Marketing Employment Opportunity with Parks Canada Posted.

Parks Canada has posted an employment opportunity in the marketing sector with their Northwestern Ontario field office located in Thunder Bay for an Internet Content and Media Officer III position.

For information, you can visit the following links.



Applicants are advised to read the information and follow the instructions
carefully. Should you have any questions about the position or the
competition, please contact Mona Gingras by e-mail (
or phone (807-346-2904).

Partnership Opportunities Abound with Tourism Thunder Bay's Newest Program

Tourism Thunder Bay is partnering with Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership, Canadian Tourism Commission, Porter Airlines, the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority, North of Superior Tourism and Sunset Country to highlight Thunder Bay as one of Canada’s Best Outdoor Cities in the 2010 Canada’s Great Outdoors campaign targeting the Chicago metropolitan marketplace.

This multi-channel media campaign will kick off January, 2010 and continue until May 31, 2010 utilizing print, web, radio and consumer show opportunities. The campaign promotes Northwestern Ontario as a premium destination for avid outdoor adventure seekers and our involvement will promote Thunder Bay as the major gateway city for air and road based travel markets.

Tourism Thunder Bay’s strategy aligns with the regional and provincial tourism strategies to maximize leveraged partnerships and capitalize on consumer research driven opportunities. The Chicago market has been identified in the Northern Ontario Tourism Marketing Strategy as a key growth market for Northwestern Ontario tourism industry and has been noted as an area of growth in Thunder Bay’s travel market for several years. The addition of Porter Airlines to the market in 2009 opens a new corridor travel option and has helped facilitate development of this particular partnership model.

Porter Airlines is contributing a 10% promotional code throughout the campaign period on their Chicago to Thunder Bay route and this project marks new involvement by the Canadian Tourism Commission to promote Northern Ontario in its key North American markets. Tourism Thunder Bay will feature an enhanced web tool to help travelers select local accommodation, vehicle rental, complimentary attractions, and outdoor equipment retailers to increase local economic impacts, build brand awareness around the “Its in our Nature” campaign and strengthen our brand positioning statement as being on of the country’s best outdoor cities. The tagline throughout our component of the campaign will be “Canada’s Great Outdoors begins in Canada’s Great Outdoor City.”

The campaign will be complimented by a Chicago area radio contest based campaign that will offer two all expense paid trips for two to Thunder Bay and into the region for angling vacations with airfare courtesy of Porter Airlines.

This partnership is part of our commitment to explore new markets based on consumer research and alignment with the provincial tourism strategy to build a stronger local and regional tourism economy and expand the economic impacts of our local tourism industry beyond our traditional partnership base. This partnership is also being developed to build new relationships with the regional resource based tourism industry and encourage them to promote Thunder Bay as a gateway to their clients as well.

We are welcoming opportunities from our Thunder Bay tourism partners to add to the Porter Airlines discount concept and list, free of charge, your own special promotional rates or codes on a Tourism Thunder Bay landing page that will link from the web portal. If you are interested in participating with a link or a web based promotional offer of your own, please email me at and we’ll load it to the landing page over the coming weeks.

We’re looking forward to your participation in this innovative new marketing partnership.