Tourism Thunder Bay has released an updated version of its popular tourism guide.
Thunder Bay Experience Magazine is a free 88-page publication that serves as a comprehensive four-seasons guide on what to see, and where to stay and eat in and around the northwestern Ontario city.
The guide features event listings and stories about the community’s cultural, culinary and natural attractions and other information to help visitors navigate the area.
Available in both print and online, the sixth annual guide has become a key product in the tourism department's marketing arsenal to entice visitors to extend their stays in northwestern Ontario.
Paul Pepe, manager of Thunder Bay Tourism, said despite the ongoing print-versus-digital debate, vendors across the city still like to have the tactile product in their hands to give away to tourists.
And once the magazine hits the streets, copies usually disappear pretty quickly.
“What we hear is that the print version – and we go through 100,000 copies a year – our hotels and our attractions love it and they continue to support us financially. They tell us people walk into their premises with it in their hands.”
Now pizzerias and gas stations have been asking for boxes of the guide.
“We get it into local people's hands and new locations that in the past we wouldn't think of as our primary tourism partners. The business community has really rallied around handing them out.”
Tourism is big business in Thunder Bay, representing a $127-million annual industry.
The guide, which was released prior to Christmas, comes in a magazine style editorial that's become a keepsake for many.
“We went to this new format and we get a lot of advertising support from our local tourism industry and it basically pays for itself,” said Pepe. “The whole idea to create this definitive annual book that people look forward to.'”Part of the distribution strategy is about getting the guide into the hands of locals. About 30 per cent of the leisure traffic into Thunder Bay comes from visiting family and friends, said Pepe.
“How do you get the locals to be our cheerleaders and ambassadors? When you have something glossy that showcases everything there is to see and do, it gets people excited and wanting to entertain their visitors and that builds community pride. If you're going to sell the city to the world you got to sell it to yourself first.”
The guide is available at the Terry Fox Visitor Information Centre, Thunder Bay International Airport and all major hotels and attractions.
Copies are also distributed to all Ontario Travel Centres and as far away as Manitoba, Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. About 30,000 copies end up in convention delegate bags.
Next out is Tourism Thunder Bay's annual meeting and convention guide. Pepe expects its release will be in June or July, in time for the start of the first of the North American convention planners trade shows in August.