Working closely with Jonview Canada, OTMPC, Farrell + Partners and overseas representatives and contacts, Tourism Northern Ontario built an overseas team to represent the region at RVC2017 in Calgary. TNO hosted a fully attended informational breakfast for European buyers at the Palliser Hotel in Calgary. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house, and the crowd was filled with great enthusiasm to learn more about Northern Ontario as a destination for international travellers. Destination Marketing Organizations from around the North made a large impact at the event with representation from the City of Thunder Bay, Northeastern Tourism Ontario, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma Country.
In 2015, TNO undertook an initiative to develop an international marketing and sales strategy. Early on, it became apparent this would also be a product development and training initiative to increase the number of international market ready product and experiences in Northern Ontario. Information and training sessions were held with Destination Marketing Organizations and operators to develop a working group to join the initiative. A multi-faceted strategy and work plan was developed and on-going implementation and mentoring has taken place with the help of professional consultants.
Traditional Canadian destinations are stressed to capacity with no excess inventory. Buyers were encouraged by the fact that the experiences TNO presented met very high criteria including the Visitor Appeal criteria with Tourism Excellence North and both Destination Canada’s and Ontario’s Signature Experience programs as well as other business and operational criteria. Buyers also learned that while Northern Ontario as a destination might be new to them, we were in fact a leading destination in Canada known to North Americans. Five German operators picked up product at the event. TNO has been invited on an overseas sales mission to Germany and Switzerland this fall. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie has been invited on Asian overseas missions on the strength of the Agawa Canyon Tour Train now being both an Ontario and Canadian Signature Experience. Tourism Northern Ontario looks forward to continuing development and hope to increase the inventory of market ready product for next year’s RVC in Halifax and other international marketplaces.