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Tourism growth industry in North (3/03)

By PAULINE CLARK The best way to explain the marketing plan that has been developed by five northern cities is to explain what those cities have been doing to promote tourism recently.
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By PAULINE CLARK

The best way to explain the marketing plan that has been developed by five northern cities is to explain what those cities have been doing to promote tourism recently.

Tim Bertrand, tourism co-ordinator for the City of North Bay, just returned from Chicago in mid-February. Bertrand and a representative from the City of Greater Sudbury attended the Heartland Trade Show where they were promoting the five northern Ontario cities and what they have to offer.

Representatives from other partner cities were recently in Indianapolis for an American Bus Association show and there are several other shows the Market Share Group attends throughout the year—all with the goal of cross-promoting the five partner cities of North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Thunder Bay.

The group is also represented by a number of key attractions including the Canadian Ecology Centre, Science North, the Polar Bear Express, the Agawa Canyon Train and the Shania Twain Centre. As well, the Province of Ontario is a partner in the group, as are a number of private-sector companies.

Together, the various partners have pooled their resources providing the group with a combined budget of $600,000.

“The idea is to try and increase the pie,” Bertrand explained in a recent telephone interview. “We can fight over whose place they stay in once we get them to the area.”

Bertrand said the city is also working on a smaller scale with the Blue Sky Region to focus on the North Bay area.

“We’ve got 2000 miles of snowmobile trails in the region…with seven or eight different loops, riders can go on a different trail every day without leaving the area,” Bertrand boasts. “That’s the kind of stuff we need to market.”

Other partnerships in the works include Almaguin-Nipissing Travel Association and Blue Sky Region who are working together to get a regional marketing program going, the city and a group who are trying to put together an ATV park near Mattawa and a festivals group that is in the early stages of partnering to promote their events.

“The whole area can be a four-seasons (destination)…we’ve got an opportunity for growth—all we’ve got to do is use what we have, which is an abundance of nature,” Bertrand said.

“Tourism is a growth industry. A lot of people don’t understand the impact on our area…it’s larger than mining, forestry and industry and a lot of people are making a living in the field,” Bertrand says.