TOURISM THUNDER BAY

2008 TOURISM DIVISION ANNUAL REPORT

2008 Tourism Year in Review 2008 represented a year of numerous milestones and successes for Tourism Thunder Bay. The Division witnessed growth in key corporate travel markets, media awareness of the city and an increase in consumer awareness of the city as a destination of choice. Domestic leisure travel remained relatively steady with modest declines and while U.S. summer markets were down, shoulder season U.S. traffic remained on par with 2007. Increased awareness from overseas’ markets, primarily Germany and Asian markets were strong indications that Tourism Thunder Bay’s new strategies were reaching wider markets through innovative channels. Achievements were made within an international tourism industry environment that saw significant challenges • Fluctuations in the dollar value • High fuel prices • Declining U.S. economy • Border identification uncertainty Tourism Thunder Bay as an Economic Driver Tourism Thunder Bay plays a vital role in the development of a strong and diversified local economy. Tourism Thunder Bay has strengthened itself as a leading economic development body with specific responsibility for the tourism sector. The statistical analysis of visitor’s economic impacts on the community paints a picture of an industry that provides significant economic benefits to the community and region. • • • • 652 000 visitors come to Thunder Bay annually The Tourism industry employs over 2000 people in the Thunder Bay area. Approximately 1450 businesses rely on tourism in whole or in part for their receipts. The tourism industry in Thunder Bay generates over $183 million annually in economic impact. (source – Ministry of Tourism) A New Direction Tourism Thunder Bay has undertaken a bold new marketing direction that challenges the status quo of how tourism strategies are developed and executed in the public sector.

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Build upon the “Superior By Nature” brand statement Position Thunder Bay as one of Canada’s Great Outdoor Cities Seek highest and best matches between available local experiences and consumer travel motivators – Outdoor Activities. Weave cultural, culinary, attractions and accommodations into the outdoor theme to maximize urban economic impacts

A New Philosophy • Consumer focused marketing strategies-Visitor First • Tourism Thunder Bay’s 2008 and 2009 marketing strategies are based entirely on consumer data, gathered locally and from extensive research sources such as Statistics Canada, and the Ministry of Tourism’s Travel Motivations Studies (TAMS) to deliver programs based on consumer’s actual needs, not perceived needs. Pragmatic approach to visitor attraction through segmentation • Tourism Thunder Bay has focused on “best bet” segments, matching campaigns specifically to consumers and industry where the community has high quality experiences that are marketable. Focus on improving visitor retention • In addition to attracting new visitors, Tourism Thunder Bay recognizes the importance of keeping visitors in the city longer and encouraging repeat visits. The Division has introduced new tools to provide information that increases visitor stays and maximizes the economic impact of each visitor. Focus on marketing iconic experiences-leading with the best. • With an increased focus on the poplar “Superior By Nature” brand statement, the city is leading with its connection to Lake Superior and natural wonders such as Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, that have developed significant brand value for consumers. With 57% of North Americans choosing outdoor experiences as their prime leisure travel motivator, the city is capitalizing on high quality, unique and “larger than life” icons.

Market Focus Tourism Thunder Bay’s pragmatic approach to the segmented marketing strategy ensures markets are targeted that offer the greatest opportunity for return on investment. Understanding why people travel and the experience they seek, greatly increases the chances for greater success. 3

Leisure - 43% of market • Lead with outdoor experiences and attractions • Create itineraries involving cultural attractions, culinary, events and accommodation Touring groups • Motor coach • Specialty touring groups (RV, motorcycle, auto) • Cruise shipping VFR local market – “Visiting Friends and Family” – 28% of market • Local awareness campaigns Meetings and conventions - 12% of market • Enhanced client care focus and concierge service Sporting events-participants - 17% of market • New Sport Tourism Strategy

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Visitor Origins As important as understanding visitor travel motivators is, understanding visitor origins is equally important, especially given the reality that during tighter economy periods, visitors will travel closer to their home. Avid travelers will continue to travel further for”once in a lifetime” experiences • 75% are from Canada • Ontario – 60% of domestic • Quebec – 10% of domestic • Alberta - 10% of domestic • British Columbia – 10% of domestic • Manitoba – 5% of domestic 19% are from the United States • Minnesota • Wisconsin • Michigan • Iowa 6% are from overseas • Germany • Great Britain • Asian nations

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Leading Edge Innovative Marketing Programs Developing unique, leading edge, consumer focused campaigns is essential to positioning the city as a destination of choice and projecting a positive image of the community and its experiences as a high quality destination for leisure, business or sport travel. Seven Days with the Giant Platform • • • • • Industry leading partnership with Ontario Parks, Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership and 25 local and regional partners Contest based campaign with a $20 000 grand prize Campaign blended outdoor and urban experiences into an unforgettable vacation experience. Marketed through a series of earned media, web, print and consumer show media channels. 25 000 entries received

“Seven Days with the Giant” will return in 2009 as the focal point of the leisure marketing campaign. Engaging Technology www.VisitThunderBay.com has evolved into the main call to action, replacing the 1-800 toll free telephone number. However, it is part of a much larger integrated movement towards utilizing digital media to market the community. Pioneering use of social web media as a tourism marketing tool • Facebook based media campaigns and contests began with the “Seven Wonders of Canada” groups and expanded to provide a number of social media platforms to promote the city’s events and attractions. VisitThunderBay.com is the official Facebook marketing platform for Tourism Thunder Bay. Blues Fest and Seven Days with the Giant have also been successfully marketed through the Facebook social media channel. Collaborative online media channels • As a MyTBay.ca partner, along with the Community Economic Development Commission and Corporate Communications, Tourism Thunder Bay is engaging the spirit of collaboration with the community to build future marketing strategies that are based on authentic experiences.

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Innovative industry communication platform • ThunderBayTourismPartners.blogspot.com provided up to date information and statistical sharing with the local tourism industry, ensuring transparency and encouraging collaboration. Enhanced Marketing Tools Thunder Bay Experience Magazine • • • • • • Expanded fulfillment publication-1 edition annually 80 pages Editorial content Developed to encourage visitor retention Available in print and digital formats 10 000 copies made available locally to encourage “Visiting Friends and Family (VFR)” market segment during the 2008 Christmas VFR season.

Outreach Part of Tourism Thunder Bay’s mandate is to provide an educational platform to a wide variety of audiences. Selling Thunder Bay to the world requires Thunder Bay to sell itself locally as well. By promoting positive impressions of the city, local residents and business leaders are more likely to help Tourism Thunder Bay attract more visitors by acting as ambassadors. The Division helps provide the tools and information to do so. In 2008, 24 presentations were made to post secondary education groups, industry associations, not for profit agencies and community service clubs covering topics including: • • • • • Tourism public policy Tourism marketing research Web 2.0 marketing in tourism Premier Ranked Tourism Destination Developing urban tourism marketing strategies that lead with outdoor experiences

Tourism Thunder Bay is represented on numerous local, regional, national and international boards and committees including: • • • • Confederation College Tourism Advisory Board North of Superior Tourism Association SKAL International – Thunder Bay Chapter North of Superior Marina Marketing Association

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International Eco and Sustainable Tourism Society Ontario’s North (Chair) Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership –Northern Committee Great Lakes Cruising Coalition

Building Regional Networks – Thunder Bay as a gateway for Northwestern Ontario • • As the hub for the region, a strong tourism economy in Thunder Bay boosts the region’s tourism economy. Tourism Thunder Bay has initiated a regional Marketing Manager’s Network group to collaborate on initiatives and discuss issues and opportunities on an annual basis Participate in the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association’s “Common Voice Initiative-to advocate increased support to the industry and provided detailed input into the new Ontario Tourism Competitiveness Strategy.

Tourism Thunder Bay has developed new and innovative relationships with a number of organizations to leverage resources and reach new markets effectively • OTMPC (Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership) • Ministry of Tourism • Fort William Historical Park • City of Thunder Bay – Parks and Recreation Divisions • Lakehead University • Confederation College • Thunder Bay Community Auditorium • Industry • FedNor • NOHFC • North of Superior Tourism • Parks Canada • Ontario Parks • SKAL International (Tourism Professionals Association) • Northern Ontario Native Tourism Association Divisional Performance Tourism Thunder Bay is a results based organization that utilizes consumer research to develop strategies that offer the greatest opportunities for success. Results measurement is an essential measurement tool to track the success of marketing investments and ensure budgets are allocated appropriately.

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Web Performance • 423 067 visitors (increase of 25% over 2007) o 34.3% Canadian o 65.7% International o 16 100 000 web “hits” Thunder Bay Experience Magazine o 120 000 print copies distributed o 42 878 electronic downloads – up 36% over 2007 Meeting and Convention Planning Guide o 5000 in print distribution o 3769 downloads – up 597% Group Tour Planner o 10 000 copies distributed to major motor coach, cruise shipping and group travel organizers. o 4023 downloads (first year of download program)

Visitor Centre Statistics • Total Inquiries -5324 – up 26% over 2007 o e-mail inquiries – 2473 – down 10% o Calls – 2851 - up 250% Visitors – 64 047 – down 14% over 2007

Travel media • 22 travel journalists visited the city in 2008 representing Canada, U.S. and Japan) • (7 in 2007) Travel Media
February June Communications Larry Blieberg Amber Ellis Anca Dobre Coastal Living Cabin Office (photographers)

June Audubon forest

T. Edward Nickens

Contributing Editor, (article re: boreal

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conservation) June July Carol Smith Kattrin Sieber (escort) Stephen Smith Ilona Kauremszky Suzanne Wright Elle Andra-Warner Holly Blefgen (escort) Tomoko Okada Hiroko Owada Mayumi Tsukamoto Satoru Seki (photographer) August September Judith Fein Paul Ross David Gonczol J. F. Bergeron February) October 09) Genevieve Paiement EnRoute ("Weekend In" article in Feb "globaladventure.us" (Ontario's North media fam) Ottawa Citizen OTMPC photographer (photos available in Editor, Group Tour Magazine (article in print) OTMP FAM

July Fam

Japanese Media

Additional travel media contact • • Provided information to Cruise North America Magazine re: Thunder Bay Cruise ship Activities In early December, Janie Robinson, a weekend getaway travel columnist for "CBC Radio Fresh Air", highlighted a range of outdoor activities and events as well as attractions that visitors can enjoy in Thunder Bay during the month. Delivered article for SeetheGlobe.com, "Win Seven Days with the Giant". In June, provided Minnesota Monthly information on "Staycations" (vacations close to home.) Tourism Thunder Bay is a regular contributor to Lake Superior magazine.

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Media Footprint • Tourism Thunder Bay was featured in approximately 210 media interviews spanning print, web, radio and television. Tourism Thunder Bay has been featured in every local media outlet, CBC Ontario, Globe and Mail, Lake Superior Magazine, Northern Ontario Business, Toronto Sun, Cruise North America, Up! Magazine and Go Riding Television

Industry Familiarization Tours • • 6 cruise shipping industry executives (June 2008) 5 motor coach operators (June 2008)

Conference Attraction • SAREX and Airstreamers represent new and unique conventions being courted to the City.

Industry Contact Tourism Thunder Bay has evolved with a greater emphasis on industry contact points and less emphasis on traditional consumer travel shows. Industry events allow Tourism Thunder Bay to work cost effectively with the travel trade, media and convention planners to maximize results with respect to visitor attraction. Whereas traditional consumer shows see visitors attracted by the family, industry shows serve to attract groups in the hundreds or even thousands to the city. Industry shows attended in 2008 include: • Seatrade Cruise Shipping • The largest annual gathering of cruise shipping professionals in the world, Thunder Bay attended Seatrade in Miami Beach in 2008 as part of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition. With a presence on the trade show floor, Thunder Bay’s presence resulted in increased industry awareness of the Lake Superior basis as the hot future expedition cruising market. International Eco and Sustainable Tourism Conference • Tourism Thunder Bay was invited as a panel speaker at the 2008 International Eco and Sustainable tourism conference to speak on the topic of developing urban tourism marketing strategies that lead with outdoor experience and successfully build partnerships that increase economic wellbeing of the local industry. With eco tourism evolving to promote responsible travel that conserves the

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environment and brings economic benefits to local communities, opportunities exist for Thunder Bay to be a world leader as an urban sustainable tourism leader. Tourism Thunder Bay is a member of the International Eco and Sustainable Tourism Society and part of the planning team for the 2009 conference. • Canadian Sport Tourism Congress • Tourism Thunder Bay met with 12 various national and provincial sporting organizations to promote the city as a future host site for various single and multi sport games. • Ontario Tourism Summit • Tourism Thunder Bay was nominated for best tourism marketing strategy under $25 000 and ended up placing second with an innovative three part campaign in 2007 that promoted Thunder Bay to the “Visiting Friends and Family” markets through social media and local contest partnerships such as “The Seven Wonders of Thunder Bay” with Dougall Media Incentive Works Howard Silver Shows (Ottawa and Toronto meeting and convention planner shows) Canadian Society of Association Executives

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Under the Ontario's North umbrella, representation at the following marketplaces: • American Bus Association • National Tour Association • Heartland Travel Showcase • Rendezvous Canada • Student Youth Travel Association • TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) • Canada Media Marketplace (represented by Ontario’s North) Consumer Contact Tourism Thunder Bay partnered with a variety of local and regional organizations to have an increased presence at select consumer shows that capitalize on best opportunities for return on investment. These included: • Minneapolis Boat Show (Marina Marketing Association) • 50 000 middle to upper income US Midwest marine enthusiasts attend this 5 day show in the Minneapolis Convention Centre.

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Toronto Outdoor Show (OTMPC) Calgary Outdoor Show (via Ontario Parks) Grand Marais Fisherman’s Picnic (NOSTA partnership)

Early Industry Performance Indicators While a complete 2008 analysis of industry performance will be released in April of 2009, a number of early indicators illustrate some of the visitation trends for the year. Tourism Thunder Bay will be analysing complete year end border crossing, parks visitation and hotel performance data and surveying attractions to gather and share a more detailed layer of statistics. Most of this data is expected by mid March, 2009. Attractions • 6% average decline over 2007 while some attractions reported from status quo to increases of up to 10% (limited early responses from verbal inquiries) A formal survey will be distributed in early February 2009 to solicit from a wider range of local attraction) Hotel Occupancy • .03% increase over 2007 (to end of October) (source-Smith Travel Research) Domestic Traffic • Leisure down 2%, other segments increased (source – smith travel research summer occupany levels) U.S. traffic • • • • • • Overseas • Year to date (to Oct 08) shows a 12% decrease over 2007 January-May 2008-decline of 8% June-September -decline of 12% September 2008 showed rebound in key U.S. Minnesota market. October saw a 7% increase over 2007 (source – Canada Border Services and StatsCan) Increase from 3% to 6% of total leisure visitation (Terry Fox Visitor Centre guest registrations)

Major Strategic Initiatives Tourism Thunder Bay has undertaken a number of strategic initiatives in 2008 to increase the capacity of the local tourism industry and position the Division to provide a higher level of service to both consumer and industry clients.

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Premier Ranked Destination Framework • • • • A project undertaken in partnership with the North of Superior Tourism Association, area municipalities and First Nations. An inventory of tourism experiences and product gaps that exist in the district 43 recommendations for improving the quality of the regional tourism industry Study will be publicly released February 2009

New approach to sourcing external creative services • Tourism Thunder Bay collaborated with Corporate Communications, Materials Management and the Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) to hire "one" Professional Advertising/Design Agency to design and implement a common "look and feel” throughout all materials that is representative of the City of Thunder Bay and the Superior by Nature brand applicable for each respective audience.

Web content management financial partnership development with OTMPC • This program provides funding to Tourism Thunder Bay to develop and manage online content for the new Provincial Tourism portal.

Evolution of the Ontario’s North tourism marketing collective involving Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay in cooperation with OTMPC, Fed Nor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.  Focus on touring, travel trade and travel media partnerships

Administration of new Northern Ontario touring development program for FedNor, OTMPC and NOHFC • Program will identify potential touring route product development opportunities that will benefit the Northern Ontario tourism economy.

Ambassador Program (phase 1)

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Furnish local event organizers with roll up displays and visitor magazines to help sell Thunder Bay.

Tourism administrative center relocation to waterfront Pool 6 Lands creates new work and educational space for advancing the tourism industry. • The Pool 6 lands offer opportunity to develop the city’s cruise ship terminal capacity and to attract new charter and excursion operators to the community. The facility houses the marketing coordination and product development staff and an industry education center. Its strategic location also signifies the tourism opportunities that accompany an enhanced waterfront and support the stronger “Superior by Nature” brand statement.

Looking Forward – 2009 Strategic Direction The global economic challenges facing almost every industrialized nation will continue to restrict the growth of the global tourism economy in 2009. A continuing slow U.S. economy, risk of recession, border identification and security issues will affect travel patterns. Constrictions in the credit market will also continue to challenge new product development in the short term. However, it is important to note that these events are cyclical and planning for the long term growth of the industry must look beyond the immediate concerns. • Build upon the “Superior by Nature” brand by creating a strong foundation to position Thunder Bay as one of North America’s great outdoor cities to visit, hold a conference, or participate in sports activities. Expand upon the iconic Sleeping Giant and Lake Superior experiences with a return of “Seven Days With the Giant” Increased shift towards web based and collaborative media marketing New campaign anchored by an interactive website launches in 2009 utilizing the first wave of MyTBay.ca inventory. Continue to build economic, environmental and social sustainability as the foundation for a successful local tourism industry. Tourism Thunder Bay believes that the implmenetation of sustainable tourism practices in its own operation, and encouraging the

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adoption of principles by local tourism partners will establish the city as a world leader in promoting urban sustainable tourism, a marketing advantage itself as consumers look for such destinations and media desire to cover such topics. Tourism Thunder Bay will: • Print publications are printed on recycled paper in 2009 and migrate to 100% FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved paper in 2010 on all publications. • Increased digital downloading opportunities of fulfillment pieces • Full recycling capabilities at Visitor Centers • Increased promotion of locally produced goods and foods. • Engage in energy efficient building operation practices • Provide educational opportunities for industry partners to adopt sustainable tourism principles. • • Initiate Implementation of Premier Ranked Tourist Destination recommendations Develop new industry support services – educational platforms including training programs for the taxi industry and a speaker’s series, providing education to industry partners on matters pertaining to the industry.

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