Researchers behind northern Ontario tourism survey want more input
'We want to get a sense of those opportunities for further growth and development,' analyst says
Researchers behind a study looking at the recovery and development of the tourism industry in northern Ontario say they need more feedback. So the inquisitive minds at Algoma University's NORDIK Institute say the deadline for their tourism surveys has been extended to May 30.
The surveys are for visitors and prospective visitors to the region, as well as tourism-related businesses and organizations, and asks questions about the tourism experience, the impact of the pandemic, and opportunities to grow and support the sector in northern Ontario.
"We're interested to see what sorts of supports would help those enterprises be able to grow, the number of customers or clients that they might have in the future," said Sean Meades, NORDIK Institute director.
"And then the survey of visitors — whether that's people from northern Ontario who decided to stay within the region last year, or people from outside of the region who came to northern Ontario — we want to get a sense of those opportunities for further growth and development."
So far, survey responses have indicated the pandemic has had a major impact on tourism businesses throughout the north.
"The vast majority have seen a decline in revenue. They've seen cancellations or rescheduling of bookings," Meades said.
"But the vast majority are also really hopeful to reopen, which I think is a very positive sign for for the sector's future."
Meades says they haven't had the opportunity to look closely at the visitor survey responses yet.
"We're hopeful the results will be able to help the industry better respond to the perceptions of visitors and attract more visitors to the region in the future."
He also says they hope the survey will produce enough data to make policy recommendations to the federal and provincial governments to support the growth of northern Ontario's tourism industry.
After the survey results are compiled, they will be shared with partners within the tourism industry, including groups like Destination Northern Ontario and other tourism marketing agencies within the region.
"And then we're going to have an industry forum where we share this information," Meades said. "Hopefully this can also inform future strategic planning and development within the sector."
Meades says developing the tourism industry in the north is "one of the best opportunities" the region has in terms of diversifying the economy.
"We have immense resources for this sector and people who have been active in it for four generations. But there's still opportunities for further growth and development. In many ways we're one of the best kept secrets within Canada."
With files from Jonathan Pinto