NORDIK Institute and Algoma University are conducting research throughout the Algoma District that will support the recovery and development of the tourism industry in northern Ontario, emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Northern Ontario Tourism Development and Recovery Strategy in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic project aims to understand how tourism-based economies have grown and to identify strengths and barriers to the tourism industry.
The project involves unique surveys for visitors and prospective visitors to the region, as well as tourism-related businesses and organizations, and asks questions about the tourism experience, the impacts of the pandemic, and opportunities to grow and support the sector in northern Ontario. The surveys are open until April 30, 2021.
“This research will play an important role in not only understanding how the pandemic has impacted the tourism industry,” stated Principal Investigator, Dr. Nusrate Aziz, “but also point to the opportunities for building the tourism industry across Northern Ontario. Tourism presents a major opportunity for economic diversification, both before and after the Pandemic, and we hope this research will help tourism operators attract more visitors and grow the importance of tourism within the regional economy.”
The surveys were developed with input from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Country Tourism, Destination Northern Ontario and other industry stakeholders. “After the survey data is collected and analysed,” said Prof. Sean Meades, “we will be sharing the results in a forum with tourism-related stakeholders to identify ways that it can support the sector’s growth.”
“The work being conducted by NORDIK is extremely valuable for organizations such as Tourism Sault Ste. Marie,” said Travis Anderson, director of tourism and community development for the City of Sault Ste. Marie. “Understanding not only the impact to the Industry as a result of Covid-19, but also the potential opportunities will be instrumental in our long-term planning.”
“For the Algoma region, the tourism industry and our operators have been severely impacted by a number of factors created by the global pandemic. With the upcoming tourism season set to start in May, our seasonal operators are concerned and continue to overcome these impacts," said Heather Bot, executive director, Algoma Country Tourism. “We are encouraged to see NORDIK Institute and Algoma University supporting the tourism sector by conducting this research throughout the Algoma region. Moving forward, this data will be crucial in assisting in the recovery of our tourism sector."
The resulting report and associated material are intended to be an informational and statistical base for future projects, programs, and advocacy for all involved. The research team consists of Dr. Nusrate Aziz, Prof. Sean Meades, and Dr. Tamanna Rimi.
“We are very concerned with the impacts to the tourism industry in Northern Ontario. We know that, for those tourism and tourism-related operations that are open now, the impacts have been rapid and devastating. In addition, our seasonal operators opening in May are extremely concerned” said David MacLachlan, Executive Director, Destination Northern Ontario.
“We are pleased to see NORDIK Institute and Algoma University stepping up to conduct research through the Algoma District that will support the development and economic impact of the tourism industry in Northern Ontario. We know this is instrumental in having a collective and well-rounded approach to recovery.”
For the purposes of this research, northern Ontario is defined as Regional Tourism area 13, roughly corresponding to the Districts of Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Algoma, Sudbury, Cochrane, Timiskaming, Nipissing, Manitoulin, and Greater Sudbury.
To appreciate participants’ time, participants can enter a draw after the survey to win a $100 gift certificate to a local vendor or Northern Ontario tourism outfitter of their choice as well as promotional hats, toques and keychains from Algoma Country Tourism and Destination Northern Ontario.
Funding to support this initiative was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Institutional Grant and Algoma University.
NORDIK (Northern Ontario Research, Development, Ideas and Knowledge) Institute is an innovative community-based research institute affiliated with Algoma University.
It is committed to the practice of holistic community development and has established strong links with other research institutes, universities, and colleges. NORDIK is committed to building local research capacity by working closely with its community partners and providing mentorship to new researchers and community development practitioners. For more information, please visit here.