Tourism promoters and operators in northern Ontario are trying to attract hunters from Italy.
The co-host of the TV show Fish’n Canada is actually a fishing expert but, about 12 years ago, when he went to a consumer show near Venice, he received more questions about hunting than fishing.
"They were asking me all kinds of questions about hunting opportunities,” Angelo Viola said.
“That's when I first realized that hunting in Canada is sort of the last frontier for European hunters."
Viola talked about this interest with a contact at the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation and, three years ago, they started promoting Ontario hunting at a big gun show in Brescia, Italy.
Brescia is home to Beretta guns, and has a prominent hunting culture. Viola said there are some very affluent hunting enthusiasts who go to the show.
He said they've sold a handful of trips so far, and they hope the market will grow.
Moose tops hunters' bucket list
David MacLachlan is one of the tourism operators who hopes to tap into the market. His family owns North to Adventure, a company that charters trips out of White River to outposts in both northwestern and northeastern Ontario.
"I think ... we just need to get the first few hunters through the door and, of course word of mouth,” MacLachlan said. “It could [lead] to bigger things in other European markets.”
MacLachlan said there's an added bonus that tourists from farther afield may be willing to pay more for the experience than the typical North American visitors.
Viola said Italian hunting enthusiasts put a high value on the chance to pursue Ontario bears and moose.
"No. 1 on … everybody's bucket list, European hunter-wise, is the moose."
Viola said he also sees opportunities to lure more hunters from other European countries, such as France and Germany. They show “the same interest as they did for hunts in Africa.”