DESTINATION NORTHERN ONTARIO
COVID-19 has had a tremendously negative impact on the tourism industry worldwide and is adversely affecting year-round and seasonal operators, employees, and travellers.
As the province of Ontario prepares to start slowly opening up the economy and easing social distancing measures, the northern Ontario tourism industry is looking at ways to address the losses of the summer season as the industry moves into recovery.
Destination Northern Ontario (DNO) has been tailoring and adapting its programming for the past nine weeks with staff continuing to work remotely. Efforts to date have focused on mitigation and relief for the industry, sharing relevant resources, developing a webinar series to help operators navigate funding programs, insurance and new policies and procedures and awareness marketing.
DNO’s programming has been met with enthusiasm from the industry with an average of 100 participants throughout the webinar series and strong buy-in to the #DreamON awareness campaign across the North.
As the province continues to open to up, DNO is looking at investing in research around changes in markets, operating protocols and what will be the new long- and short-term training needs for the industry.
The organization has been working hand-in-hand with the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario, Northern Destination Marketing Organizations, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, sector organizations like Attractions Ontario and Camping Ontario and private tourism operators.
DNO recognizes that the transborder closures may continue throughout what is usually the busiest time of the year for northern tourism operators. The organization is preparing marketing plans that will shift focus to domestic markets to make up for potentially lost visitation across the Canada – U.S. border.
“It is difficult to plan long term as there is no indication as to when our province will open for business,” said David MacLachlan, Executive Director, Destination Northern Ontario. “One thing is clear: it won’t be business as usual and the number one priority is and will always be the safety of owners, employees and visitors and following the recommendation of our public health agencies. We are working diligently so that, when Ontario opens for business, the northern tourism industry will be ready.”
Destination Northern Ontario continues to host weekly calls with stakeholders from across the region and key sector organizations. Information and programming updates are being shared to ensure there are no lost opportunities for tourism organizations in Northern Ontario. DNO will continue to share data and market intelligence with its partners to ensure that it is promoting meaningful, relevant content to its audiences.
Survey results will continue to be posted on the website. DNO encourages the industry to keep up to date by signing up for its newsletters via the website and/or through social by following the handle destinationnorthernontario on Facebook and @DestNorthernOnt on Twitter.