Kenora tourism

Sun­set Coun­try Travel As­so­ci­a­tion’s mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives brings in vis­i­tors

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - FRONT PAGE - ERIK PINDERA

Sun­set Coun­try mar­ket­ing draws vis­i­tors to NWO.

The eco­nomic im­pact of tourism in North­west On­tario is wide-reach­ing.

In 2014 — the lat­est year sta­tis­tics are avail­able — 2,054,600 peo­ple vis­ited North­west­ern On­tario — 934,000 of them vis­ited be­tween July and Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada data pre­pared by the On­tario Min­istry of Tourism, Cul­ture and Sport.

Of those 2,054,600 vis­i­tors, 465,900 in­di­cated fish­ing as their rea­son for visit­ing, and 406,900 in­di­cated boat­ing — the two high­est num­bers for any sin­gle out­door ac­tiv­ity — 233,100 of those who in­di­cated fish­ing as their rea­son for visit­ing were Amer­i­cans.

Many fish­ing lodges charge Amer­i­can clients in USD — bring­ing in more money to the re­gion when the CAD is down.

Ac­cord­ing to the same sta­tis­tics, those 2,054,600 vis­i­tors spent $481,276,000 in 2014 — with $246,181,000 spent be­tween July and Septem­ber in 2014.

Con­sid­er­ing many of the fish­ing lodges and hunt­ing out­fit­ters are owned by North­west­ern On­tar­i­ans, much of that money stays in the re­gion, at least ac­cord­ing to Gerry Car­iou, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Sun­set Coun­try Travel As­so­ci­a­tion.

“The im­pact of the fish hunt com­po­nent of tourism is ex­treme,” said Car­iou. “It’s like a lum­ber mill — it brings in out­side dol­lars, but the dif­fer­ence is, in the mills, the money is of­ten ex­ported to head of­fices in Toronto — here the money is mostly re­tained.”

Even con­sid­er­ing some fish­ing lodges are owned by Amer­i­cans, the trickle down ef­fect keeps money in the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to Car­iou.

“Even Amer­i­can lodge own­ers have to buy their bait here, their fuel here, ev­ery­thing,” said Car­iou.

Look­ing at the num­bers, the Sun­set Coun­try Travel As­so­ci­a­tion plays a role in bring­ing in that out­side money.

Last year, the SCTA spent in ex­cess of $400,000 on mar- ket­ing — from blog­ging and Face­book boost­ing to tra­di­tional paid advertising, Car­iou re­lated.

The SCTA’s money is largely drawn from fees paid by mem­bers and advertising — cities, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, fish­ing lodges, out­fit­ters — and the SCTA uses it’s wide-reach­ing so­cial me­dia pres­ence — nearly 200,000 likes on Face­book alone, be­tween a va­ri­ety of pages — it’s bought-and­paid-for advertising and it’s mail and email lists to con­nect tourists to fish­ing lodges and other out­fit­ters.

“The num­bers of in­quiries for trips we get is ex­cep­tional,” said Car­iou. “Since the first of this year, we’ve had, just in­ter­net-based in­quiries, 2,597 in­quiries.”

Car­iou es­ti­mates. in ad­di­tion to in­ter­net in­quiries, the SCTA gets an­other 40 per cent of that vol­ume of in­quiries over the phone,

Those are all peo­ple in­quir­ing about trips to North­west­ern On­tario — trips in which they’ll spend money at area stores, area food sup­pli­ers and area out­fit­ters.

“We’re a non-profit, grass roots or­ga­ni­za­tion run by peo­ple who live here. Our board of directors is drawn from the mem­bers — the industry that con­trib­utes,” said Car­iou. “What do we do for the LOTW re­gion? This is what we do,” said Car­iou.


Sun­set Coun­try Travel As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tiver di­rec­tor Gerry Car­iou dis­cusses the as­so­ci­a­tion's so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing strat­egy in­clud­ing a ded­i­cated web­site de­vel­oped at a cost of $110,000. The SCTA has seen a 70 per cent in­crease in vis­its as a re­sult of search en­gine op­ti­miza­tion.

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