Tourism North Bay revealed its new brand and official four season visitor's guide on board the Chief Commanda II Wednesday.
Executive Director Stephen Hollingshead said together with its partners and the city of North Bay, the organization will create packages to generate awareness about the area.
"A lot of people ask, 'Where is North Bay? Well, it's just north of Toronto'. So it's really talking about how close we are to the major markets like Ottawa and Toronto, creating packages to drive tourism here, and promoting and marketing the region," he stated.
Rich Stivrins is Captain of the Chief Command II. This is his 17th season with the tour boat and believes tourists are crucial to the success of his seasonal business. He has joined with other partnering organizations who are paying a two per cent Tourism Infrastructure Fee on accommodations, and a supplemental marketing fee on attractions and restaurants.
Stivrins says pooling their money gives them more marketing exposure by joining with Tourism North Bay, a not for profit organization.
"They hit on the theme a number of times today, where working together we can really do some wonderful things," he said.
"As operators in the tourism industry, we do our own marketing and promotions and all that type of stuff, but it's nice to have an organization that can have many voices speaking in unison, rather than a whole bunch of voices speaking their own language."
The money will help Tourism North Bay move forward as it works under four main pillars.
The local Director of Tourism explained the first pillar will address the "unique needs, benefits and requirements of the city."
Hollingshead went on to say the second pillar involves working closely with the city to "research and establish comparable and compatible events such as meetings, conventions, and sports tourism. And when appropriate, Tourism North Bay can allocate funds to help support bids and host events."
The third pillar requires working closely with its partners on packaging and selling experiences in North Bay. The fourth and final pillar will "develop and impliment marketing tools unique to North Bay, to capitalize on the Northern experience and North Bay as the destination of choice."
The presentation was held during National Tourism Week. On hand was Stephanie Pagnucco, representing Tourism Northern Ontario. She said of all the larger centres in the north, North Bay has a distinct advantage with its proximity to Toronto, when it comes to tapping into those tourist dollars.
"Northern Ontario has just had two of its best seasons since 2003. So I think the combination of upping our product development with our marketing efforts, and that low Canadian dollar really showed some good numbers. We need to keep that momentum going," she said.
The local tourism initiative has been two years in the making and has received the full support of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce. Chamber President Peter Chirico believes this is an opportunity to bring tourism and destination marketing together.
"It's really going to do justice to the City of North Bay and surrounding area. It helps our members. It lets us know what we've got here. A lot of us who live in North Bay don't even know what we have," stated Chirico.
North Bay Mayor Al McDonald said the city has contributed $25,000 a year for the past few years to help get this tourism initiative off the ground.
"We've recognized that there are champions out there that can do tourism extremely well, where the city couldn't do it quite as well," said McDonald.
"It's really to attract people into the community, to support our restaurants, hotels, local merchants, and businesses. Once they're here maybe we can sell them on buying a summer residence, becoming a full time resident or even moving their business to North Bay."