Tourism Boosted by National Ranking and Local Branding


Thunder BayTHUNDER BAY – The growing importance of tourism can be seen in growth in hotels, attractions, and the evolution of the tourist market in Thunder Bay. Gaining tourists from outside our traditional markets may have just become easier.

“Having Canada ranked number one in the country brand index brings definite advantages, particularly in attracting international markets and shows the role that the CTC plays at the national level to help grow that brand,” states Paul Pepe, the Manager of Tourism for the City of Thunder Bay.  “International markets don’t respond so much to a local, regional or provincial brand so much as they know the national brand first – Canada.  Once they take an interest, they scroll down to the experiences that exist at the provincial and regional levels”.

“Anecdotally, we’ve heard and seen more Europeans making the cross-country trek through the city this summer, likely a result that Olympic coverage gave to increase awareness,” Pepe continued. “Within the outdoor adventure and touring segments, this has the potential to benefit our region and community.  Traditionally, the overseas markets for Thunder Bay have hovered between 3 and 5% but growth potential exists through the development of the right partnerships, and matching our experiences to the correct markets in the digital marketing environment”.

“Overseas visitors typically stay longer and therefore invest more into the economies of the areas they visit.  European markets still have a lot of growth potential and the recent opening of the Chinese market for Canada is going to see new opportunities grow in the coming decade”.

Pepe continues, “However, as a side note, the CTC is eliminating its US presence entirely, and shifting all of its focus towards the overseas markets.  While we want to see that presence in those emerging markets grow, the reality is that we still need to maintain a national brand positioning presence in our single largest close haul market irregardless of their current economic climate”.

“With over 85 million passport holders and over 25 million households with $100 000 plus incomes, its a market we need to keep investing in through targeted research driven experiential strategies, not only locally and provincially but nationally as well,” concludes Pepe.

The international exposure of the Vancouver Winter Olympics have opened the door for Canada as a destination. In just four short years, Canada has become the most respected country brand in the world. It bumped the US from the top spot as it leveraged the 2010 Winter Games to extend the global reach of its tourism brand.

In Nipigon Ontario, Sarah Lewis, the Economic Development Officer states, “As Nipigon builds the centre for the Lake Superior National Marine Conservaton Area, we can learn from the example of Canada’s Keep exploring brand, which was created to take advantage of the opportunity of the Olympic Games”.

Sarah Lewis“Branding is about finding the true spirit of a community,” continued Lewis. “Community pride and visitor experience are both important. Canada’s Keep exploring brand is a good example of a brand that captures both”.

”Communities change and our brands change along with us. Nipigon Nestled in Nature, is about the experience of being from Nipigon and the experience of visiting Nipigon. But in the past, we were known as Nipigon of all places, and Brennen Ford still keeps that tradition in it’s advertising. As we develop the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, and our visitor experience changes, we have to expect that our brand will keep growing too”.

The ranking comes from the Country Brand Index by FutureBrand, a New York based global brand consultancy. Michele McKenzie, president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), will be present at the formal awards ceremony on Nov. 11 in London, England, at the 31st annual World Travel Market (WTM), one of the world’s largest travel, trade and media showcases.

After launching the revitalized tourism brand—Canada. Keep exploring—six years ago, Canada leapfrogged from 12th place in 2006 to sixth place in 2007,and jumped again to second place in 2008, a position it held again in 2009.

This year, the US ceded the coveted premier spot to Canada. Amid this jostling, Canada’s tourism brand has emerged as powerful, engaging and vibrant in an intensely competitive international tourism marketplace.

As Ms. McKenzie sums up, “Several years ago, CTC set out to refresh Canada’s tourism brand in anticipation of being on the world stage in 2010. We believed that—with the right strategy—a legacy of the Games could be more interest in Canada as a travel destination, and ultimately more visitors.”

The CTC and our partners seized the once-in-a-generation opportunity provided by the Games to showcase Canada’s tourism brand internationally. We placed stunning video shot from coast to coast to coast directly into the hands of broadcasters from all the countries in which the CTC markets.

Initial results of the CTC’s marketing campaigns conducted before, during and after the Games indicate that the number of trips booked has increased over 2009 as a result of the awareness created of Canada as a top-ranked travel destination.

The CTC’s Olympic strategy, which runs to the end of 2012, was funded by a $26 million federal investment.

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