Tim Lukinuk (left) and Paul Nursey go through some travel guides on Oct. 31, 2012.
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THUNDER BAY -- A $100,000 shortfall has forced the North of Superior Travel Association to come up with a new market strategy.
NOSTA members met to hear keynote speaker Paul Nursey, vice-president and corporate communications for the Canadian Tourism Commission, at a dinner at the Airlane Hotel Wednesday. The major message for the association was how to remarket themselves following massive cuts to services from the provincial government.
NOSTA President Tim Lukinuk said they’re hoping to hear about some new strategies that they can implement in the north in order to improve tourism in the region especially following the announcement of the cuts.
“All of this seems to be death by a thousand cuts,” Lukinuk said.
“We used to have a $100,000 a year contract with the province to do tourism marketing and develop content and things like that but that has also been eliminated. Part of our strategy in here tonight and again tomorrow is to try to figure out how we’re going to handle the cut back, the funding and what we can do to move forward.”
The province announced that they will be closing travel information centres as well as reducing staffing at a number provincial parks.
Lukinuk said all of these cost cutting measures are part of the province redoing its marketing strategy and reprioritizing.
Despite the financial restraints Lukinuk said tourism in the region isn’t doing badly, yet there hasn't been a boom to speak of either.
“Tourism is stable but there’s still a lot of weakness in the economies especially in the United States,” he said.
“We understand that the American visitation is not quite what it should be. I haven’t seen the United States border states this year so I think we’re holding our own but we’re certainly not booming.”
Nursey said many organizations including his own are facing cutbacks but that simply means that businesses have to get more creative and outsmart the competition instead of outspending them.
Having only been in Thunder Bay for a day, Nursey said Thunder Bay is a cohesive community but still needs to work better as a group in order to tell its story more aggressively.
“Anyone in tourism who assumes customers are going to come well that’s a very dangerous assumption,” he said. “Often policy makers and business owners think there’s this latent demand for tourism and that’s not the case. It’s very competitive so marketing is a big challenge.”
“What I hope to add to the members who come to this speaking engagement tonight is kind of show marketing has changed and that the competitive landscape has changed and how to make it usable in their daily business.”
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