Thunder Bay, ON – May 5, 2022 – Ontario Nature is launching a new project in northwestern Ontario to promote and support tourism operators that provide high-quality nature experiences for their clients.
Over the next year, Ontario Nature will be partnering with tourism operators and organizations to deliver experiential tours, hikes and other excursions. The project will connect nature lovers with unique natural settings found in and around Thunder Bay, with a focus on attracting more tourists from within Ontario.
Many in the tourism sector were hard hit by COVID-19 travel restrictions, particularly with the closure of the U.S.– Canada border. These restrictions led to a surge in “hyper-local” and within-province tourism. There is a market for increasing local and provincial tourists to ease some of the dependence on U.S. travelers – a shift that is needed to build resilience in the tourism sector.
Northern Ontario attracts over 9 million visitors annually, according to Destination Northern Ontario (DNO). The expansion of nature and adventure tourism has been identified as a primary focus niche by DNO Product Development Strategy and Marketing Strategy for 2017–2020 reports. These strategies identify opportunities related to nature and adventure, notable or signature landscapes, waterways, and wildlife viewing in northern Ontario as high priority tourism products.
“Ontario Nature is in a great position to help promote the beautiful landscapes, scenic towns and knowledgeable guides that we have in northwestern Ontario.” says Jake Guggenheimer, Nature-based Tourism Project Coordinator based in Thunder Bay. “We have a large network of members from across Ontario who are passionate naturalists. One of our goals for this project is to encourage travel within the province and get people outside to explore northern Ontario”.
The project will also provide free training workshops to tourism operators and organizations to increase their capacity to deliver nature-based, conservation-focused tourism that has a light environmental footprint. Workshops will be delivered from May to September this year and will cover boreal birds, plants, geology and other natural heritage topics.
“Superior Country looks forward to working with Ontario Nature to support businesses and communities in the region to increase their tourism products,” said Suzanne Kukko, the Lake Superior North Shore Tourism Coordinator of Superior Country. “We are always looking for additional offers to encourage visitors to stay and play longer, and nature-based tourism is a huge piece of that. Ontario Nature will help operators build capacity to develop and deliver that product, while increasing awareness and promotion of conservation.”
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For more information or media inquiries, contact:
Jake Guggenheimer, Ontario Nature
Nature-based Tourism Project Coordinator
Jakeg@ontarionature.org | 807-629-7915
Ontario Nature is a registered charity working to protect Ontario’s wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature has over 155 member groups and 30,000 member and supporters throughout the province. Since 2003, Ontario Nature has been connecting people with nature across northern Ontario through our Thunder Bay office. We have engaged with thousands of people through our outdoor education activities including birding hikes, wildlife identification workshops and mushroom collecting in northwestern Ontario.