Lonely Planet calls northern Ontario cities 'dreary'

Some negative comments in a well-known travel guide have put northern Ontario cities on the defensive.

Travel guide says it doesn't see the reviews as negative and strives to 'tell it like it is'

Some negative comments in a well-known travel guide have put northern Ontario cities on the defensive.

The Lonely Planet guidebook and website describes Sault Ste. Marie as "dreary" and "not the prettiest town."

City councillor and former tourism manager Susan Myers said she "laughed out loud" when she read that.

"Sault Ste. Marie might not be downtown Chicago or Toronto or Montreal, but it's a very pretty waterfront city," she said.

The Lonely Planet guide reviews North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, which it says is in the "middle of nowhere" has "winters out of a Siberian nightmare."

The town's chief administrative officer Chris Wray said he finds the review "mean."

"I can't help what somebody has printed as an opinion, all I can say is that what they've printed isn't necessarily true," said Wray, who said he agrees with the Lonely Planet's description of the town's famous goose as "shabby" since there are plans to refurbish it.

Changing perceptions 'exciting'

For Sudbury, the Lonely Planet praises the science museums and the city's world-famous regreening, but does say that it isn't worth visiting unless you're passing through.

Greater Sudbury manager of tourism and culture Meredith Armstrong said Sudbury is used to clearing up misconceptions and that it can actually be good in the long run.

"I see it always a challenge and an opportunity to change minds about who we are in the world," said Armstrong.

"The word of mouth is fantastic because they're shocked at how beautiful the city is, how much there is on offer. And changing those perceptions is always exciting."

Northern Ontario is facing some harsh reviews in a recent publication of the Lonely Planet travel guide. The CBC's Erik White talks to Markus about the local reaction. 7:36

No one from the Lonely Planet was made available to do an interview with CBC News.

But in an email statement, a statement from the tourist guide said it has been criticized in the past for being too positive and that its writers strive to "tell it like it is."

"If our coverage promotes tourist boards to lift their game a little and improve services in a town and inspire their businesses to lift their game, then I think we're doing a great job," the statement reads.

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