THUNDER BAY, ON – BUSINESS – Today, the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has released new data that reveals a significant tourism opportunity gap when compared to international growth rates. According to the organization’s report, Closing the Tourism Gap: Creating a Long-Term Advantage for Ontario, Ontario has foregone nearly $16 billion in visitor spending between 2006 and 2012 by not keeping up with global growth trends. While this year has been a strong year for tourism in Ontario, it is important that this recent growth is translated into long-term, sustainable gains in tourism visitation.
“The tourism industry is an important economic driver in Thunder Bay and across the province,” says Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber. “Through research outlined in this report, we’ve found that Ontario is missing out on significant tourism growth in comparison to international trends. Our local industry and the province as a whole must take steps to boost our reputation as a global destination for foreign visitors and close the tourism gap.”
The Chamber report identifies a number of challenges faced by tourism operators and the broader tourism community in Ontario, while presenting a series of action items to address them. The Chamber is encouraged that the government is moving ahead with an action plan for the province’s tourism industry, a key consideration highlighted by its membership.
The report is clear about the need for any provincial strategy to include measurable targets, a practice currently employed by many successful tourism destinations. These targets would help to organize and coordinate tourism activities amongst the diverse group of public and private tourism organizations in Ontario, another key recommendation of the report.
“Tourism is worth in excess of $534 million annually to our regional economy, employs thousands and supports almost 3,000 businesses including 1,300 in Thunder Bay,” said Paul Pepe, Manager of Tourism Thunder Bay. “It is exciting to see the work being undertaken by both the Ontario and Thunder Bay Chambers of Commerce to support and encourage growth of this vital industry. The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is a valuable partner in building a healthy and sustainable tourism industry as a large part of a diversified local and regional economy.”
To produce this report, the OCC convened a group of Ontario’s leading thinkers within the tourism community. The report builds on previous initiatives undertaken by members of the tourism industry and further substantiates the need for a focused and measured approach targeted towards supporting the future of tourism in Ontario.
Read the full report at: www.tbchamber.ca/news/