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Thunder Bay attracting fewer Americans, but Canadian tourists pick up the slack.

Thunder Bay attracting fewer Americans, but Canadian tourists pick up the slack

The origin of Thunder Bay's tourists is changing, if this past summer is any indication.

"U.S. traffic was down," says Lynn McCreadie, executive director of North of Superior Tourism. "However, we noted a slight increase in domestic (inter-provincial) travel and a slight increase in visitors from Western Canada."

McCreadie says there was another main difference this summer. The usually affluent, big-spending American tourists spent less money, while Canadian travellers were spending more.

It appears Americans are not thrilled about the prices for gas, food and accommodation in Canada, while Canadians are accustomed to them.

This summer North of Superior Tourism surveyed tourists, as well as Americans who chose not to come to Canada.

"We're hoping to get some fairly valuable information from the visitor surveys," says McCreadie.

She has found that the resorts and fly-in fishing camps which avidly market themselves at travel shows in the U.S. are being rewarded with increased business, while the resorts that are relying on attracting drive-by trade are doing less business.


McCreadie says there was a good response this summer to Destination Thunder Bay, a 14-week-long publicity campaign aimed at communities within a day's drive of the city.

The joint effort of North of Superior Tourism, the city and the business community involved radio and TV advertising and the distribution of a tabloid publication.

McCreadie says the program created a lot of awareness, and will definitely continue because of its tremendous potential.

Other marketing efforts are also having success.

The current fishing and hunting guide is being transformed into a travel guide for the region, although fishing and hunting will still maintain a high profile.

Meanwhile, the Lake Superior Circle Tour Guide grew to 160 pages this year.

It is anticipated that the tourism sector will benefit from Thunder Bay hosting the World Nordic Ski Championships in 1995.


Mayor Jack Masters is optimistic about the future of tourism in Thunder Bay. However, he thinks more could be done to attract visitors.

Masters says a study being undertaken by the city is looking at the opportunities to "focus" the tourism image of Thunder Bay.

"We have a lot of tourist attractions, but we seem to sell them in five different ways," he says.


Meanwhile, Old Fort William, one of the major attractions in the area, is receiving a major enhancement.

A.J. Wing and Sons of Thunder Bay has been awarded a $4.5-million contract to construct a visitor centre at Old Fort William.

The 20,000-square-foot centre, designed by the Thunder Bay architectural firm of Kuch and Stephenson, will be located downstream from the fur trading centre of the North West Company.

Resting on fieldstone piers on the shore of the Kaministikwia River, it will house an information and admissions island, exhibition space, a gift shop, a restaurant, washrooms, a first aid room, storage areas for wheelchairs and strollers and visitor seating areas.

The exhibition space of the centre will include a multi-media area where the story of the fort will be told, a general orientation area and a panoramic viewing area.

Completion of the project is expected in the spring of 1992.
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Title Annotation:Thunder Bay Report
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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