Sudbury

Tourists flocking north — and leaving feeling pretty impressed, Sudbury official says

The strong Canadian dollar and good weather were both helpful in bringing more tourists to Sudbury and northern Ontario this summer.

Tourism operators are raising the bar when it comes to improving visitors' experiences

Plenty of people flock to the Big Nickel, an icon in Sudbury. What are tourism operators doing to improve their visitors' experience? That's a question that was debated during a recent tourism conference held this week in Sudbury. The three day, Northern Ontario Tourism Summit wrapped up yesterday. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

The strong Canadian dollar and good weather were both helpful in bringing more tourists to Sudbury and northern Ontario this summer.

That's according to the city's manager of Tourism and Culture, Meredith Armstrong, who was at the Northern Ontario Tourism summit held this week in Sudbury.

Armstrong says the majority of visitors to Sudbury are family and friends of those who already live here.

But she says Sudbury is still reaching a new audience.
Meredith Armstrong is Sudbury's manager of tourism and culture. (CBC)

"Depending on their age, they either have a negative impression of Sudbury from long ago, or they're young enough that they have no impression at all," she told CBC News.

"So either way, when we get them here, they're impressed. We do show well. We have a gorgeous city and some really fun, innovative activities."

'Raising the bar'

The executive director of Tourism Northern Ontario says they've created a new tourism development program based on a successful one from Atlantic Canada, specifically Newfoundland and Labrador.

David MacLachlan says the program is meant to help tourism operators make positive changes to better appeal to visitors.

"We're going into these businesses and sitting with them and just seeing it through fresh eyes," he said.

"We have operators going out the next day and buying paint and buying hardware and ordering new linens, really again, raising the bar."
David MacLachlan is the executive director of Tourism Northern Ontario. (CBC)

MacLachlan says, for 2017, Tourism Northern Ontario plans to market to cyclists due to trail development across the region.

Of course tourists still come to northern Ontario to get their fix of nature and outdoors, he said.

Angling and snowmobiling perennially draw people north each year.

MacLachlan noted the majority of tourists are northern Ontario residents moving around the north, but southern Ontario tourists are on the increase.

He added that international visitors are still a small segment — roughly about 2 per cent of the of tourists.

Online marketing

Both MacLachlan and Armstrong say building a social media presence is key for businesses looking to draw more tourists.

"We do have a new destination page for Sudbury on Trip Advisor, which gives us new ownership of the content," Armstrong said.

"It gives us new ways of linking all of those listings that are on Trip Advisor in one central place and it's going to help all of us in terms of how we're found on search engines and that kind of thing."

Armstrong says she expects their ongoing social media efforts will help increase tourism in the region next year.
Tourism Northern Ontario plans to market to cyclists due to trail development across the region. (CBC file photo)

With files from Angela Gemmill. Edited and packaged by Wendy Bird.

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