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Tourism funding for north boosted

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Ontario and the federal government are investing $2.3 million to support a new marketing strategy that will help to grow the northern tourism economy by making it much easier for travellers to plan and purchase trips to the north.

In partnership with the northern tourism industry, a new five-year plan (2008-12) is being introduced to improve tourism marketing efforts for Northern Ontario.

The plan will bring together the marketing efforts of virtually all the northern tourism partners, which will help to promote and sell Northern Ontario by targeting markets across Ontario, Quebec, Western Canada, and U.S. border states like Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and New York.

More than 500 Northern Ontario tourism industry members helped to develop the strategy through a series of public consultations and one-on-one interviews held in 2007.

Projects launched in the first year include:

•a new web portal showcasing Northern Ontario’s tourism offerings;

•a marketing campaign, targeted at key U.S. and domestic markets, that drive consumers to this new portal; and

•a toolkit to further educate the industry on word-of-mouth marketing in the digital world, public relations, and how to manage photo and video archives.

In 2008, Northern Ontario was introduced through a first phase as “Canada’s Great Outdoors” in the Chicago market.

This multi-media campaign, which features famous outdoorsman and television personality Babe Winkelman, has shown great results and is being further developed this year as part of the new strategy.

The 2009 campaign includes television spots, billboards, newspaper stories, as well as online advertising.

“There is tremendous potential for growth of our Northern Ontario tourism industry,” said Tourism minister Monique Smith. “As someone who was born and raised in the north, I know just how important tourism is to our northern communities.

“Working with our tourism partners across the north, this new strategy will ultimately help to attract more visitors to the north and will give a boost to our local economies,” she added.

“Our government is committed to helping Northern Ontario’s tourism industry grow,” said Kenora MP Greg Rickford, on behalf of Industry minister Tony Clement, who also is the minister responsible for FedNor.

“We understand the importance of tourism to the economy both nationally and regionally, and are proud to support the growth of this industry in Northern Ontario.”

“Northern Ontario is one of the most beautiful pieces of land on the entire planet,” echoed Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle.

“Our region contains tourism gems such as lakes and rivers, the beautiful boreal forest, numerous mountains and hills, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking trails, and much, much more.

“I am extremely pleased with this initiative and the continued support our government has for the northern tourism industry,” Gravelle added.

“It is important that tourism marketing strategies for Northern Ontario continue to evolve,” said Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro. “This broad-based collaborative effort will help to position the northern tourism industry for future growth so that it remains a strong vital component of our economy.”

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