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City and businesses combine efforts to market Thunder Bay as a 'destination'.

City and businesses combine efforts to market Thunder Bay as a `destination'

Thunder Bay businesses and the city are teaming up to lure tourism dollars back across the American border this summer.

Destination Thunder Bay is a vigorous 14-week publicity campaign aimed at communities within a day's drive of Thunder Bay.

In a first collective effort, the city is spending $2 for every $1 spent by 12 local businesses on the campaign. Three thousand radio commercials started May 13 on stations across northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the north shore of Lake Superior. Radio ads totalled $18,000, television ads $6,700 and print advertising $7,500.

A tabloid publication bearing the title Destination Thunder Bay is being distributed in the same area. A similar publication, The North Shore Visitor stems from Duluth, Minn.

Destination Thunder Bay informs the reader that Thunder Bay is a vacation paradise. And the people promoting the area sincerely believe it is.

Lois Nuttal, from North of Superior Tourism, says the Thunder Bay area has terrific things which are quickly disappearing elsewhere. She mentions uncrowded spaces, clean air and water and precious wilderness.

"Where else can you go and pick up a piece of gemstone right off the ground?" Nuttal asks, referring to Thunder Bay's amethyst mines.

Isolated fishing villages like Rossport look as if they belong in a post card of a Norwegian fjord. Rossport, on the north shore of Lake Superior, is famous for its lake trout fishing in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.

The list of attractions north of Superior is long, but Americans see them as expensive.

"We're trying to prove that we're not," says Paul Drombolis, manager of Thunder Bay's visitors and convention bureau.

Drombolis claims price is part of an image which has no real basis in fact. Hotel rates in Thunder Bay are among the lowest in Canada and tourist attractions are not expensive, he says. American tourists receive an exchange rate on their dollar of up to 19 per cent.

The bureau's 1990 marketing plan stated that the number of U.S. residents entering Canada through the Pigeon River crossing, the nearest to Thunder Bay, is down 17.2 per cent from 1988/89.

The plan goes on to say that "an examination revealed that we have developed a reputation, particularly in Duluth, of being an expensive community to visit."

"I haven't heard too many reports that we aren't friendly. Although we can always offer a more hospitable service," Drombolis says.

Thunder Bay's chamber of commerce has a tourism department manned by Debby Krupa. National experts from the hotel and motel association have predicted a decline in tourism, she says.

These predictions worry the city's business community.

According to the economic development office, five years ago approximately 2.06 million travellers visited the North of Superior Tourism region. Overnight visitors spent an average of three nights in the region. Nearly a million visitors, or 44 per cent of all travellers, spent one or more nights.

In the same year, the tourism sector, including both direct and indirect spending, generated $177 million.

Approximately $36 million in federal, provincial and municipal taxes were generated from direct tourism expenditures. Tourism actively generated 1,700-man-years of employment in 1985.

Statistics for 1989 indicated Thunder Bay had 900,000 visitors who stayed 2.7 days on average and spent $74 each.
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Title Annotation:Thunder Bay, Ontario
Author:Merits, Roxanne
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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