Thunder Bay tourism sees boost from bikers
Thunder Bay's manager of tourism says he's looking forward to a strong tourism season, thanks to a new strategy that promotes the entire Northwestern Ontario region as a destination.
"What we've done is … taken a regional approach in positioning northwest Ontario specifically to the touring and … broader outdoor adventure market,” Paul Pepe said.
“We are focusing more on touring, and getting people out exploring."
The new marketing approach allows communities across the region to leverage their combined resources, and funding.
"It is a new approach and it's one that … we're taking a very careful look at and one … we're hoping to build on," Pepe said.
'The Lake Superior experience'
The city is building tourism partnerships that branch all the way in to Manitoba and Minnesota.
At the centre of the new strategy is a website — visitnorthwestontario.com — that features outdoor activities and attractions across the region.
The city is also trying to increase its presence on social media and travel media, such as being promoted in travel shows.
Pepe noted the city is focusing on motorcycle tourism in particular. He said it's an area of growth, and something in which the city will increase investment this year.
Last year, U.S. motorcycle traffic to Thunder Bay increased by about 12 per cent, he added.
“Even this year we're noticing more touring bikes, more group tours, [and] more tour operators that operate motorcycle guided tours are approaching us, that want to be able to sell the Lake Superior experience."
Response to the new strategy has been positive, he said.