Tourists staying at fishing lodges have a significant impact on the Northwestern Ontario economy!

By Gerry Cariou | Executive Director, Ontario’s Sunset Country Travel Association

Tourism is a major economic sector in Northwest Ontario and it’s about time that the Government and the public started to appreciate tourism more for the jobs it creates, the impact it has on other, non-tourism sectors through tourist spending and tourism business purchases. This post summarizes some key stats about tourism in Northwestern Ontario and should be a wake-up call to those in Government and the public in general how important tourism really is to Northwestern Ontario.

Tourism is Big Business in Sunset Country!

  • $288 million in economic activity
  • 9,404 full-year jobs
  • $191 million in wages
  • $171 million in Federal, Provincial and Municipal taxes

U.S. Visitors are the most important

  • Tourism is an “Export Business” in Sunset Country
  • Heavy reliance on our American neighbours – 79% of all tourism expenditures in Sunset Country are by Americans
  • Seasonal Visitation – 87% of total overnight visits occur between April and September

Capital Expenditure Impacts

  • Resource-based tourism (RBT) businesses themselves have a major economic impact
  • Capital expenditures of $18 Million in the region
  • This created an additional 490 full-year jobs
  • Average of $156 Million is spent annually in Sunset Country by RBT businesses on operating expenses (71% of total)
  • $4 million in property taxes
  • RBT businesses directly employs 3,785 persons

Municipalities and Tourism

  • Tourism is a key generator of economic activity in your town or city
  • In some smaller communities, tourism is the number 1 industry while it is 2nd or at worst 3rd, in most others
  • People who live in your community depend on tourism for their livelihood – 82% of RBT businesses are owned by Canadians (17% by Americans)
  • Important seasonal work for returning students as well as year-round residents
  • RBT businesses stimulate economic activity in your community through direct, indirect and induced impacts

Some Important Issues

  • Tourism Industry has suffered somewhat over past 2 decades
  • 9/11 attacks – security issues are still a major issue with border crossing
  • 2015/2016 – Tourism just now recovering now from housing/financial crisis in 2008
  • Border enforcement policies still a problem
  • Government policy decisions that affect RBT are still a problem – e.g. Spring Bear Hunt
  • Gas Prices

What Can You Do To Help

  • Continue supporting the industry through contributions to tourism marketing organizations (Local and Regional)
  • Get involved with issues that negatively impact RBT – e.g. the Border issue – NOMA has helped on this issue already
  • Advocate/implement local policies which can help tourism grow in your communities
  • Recognize Tourism for what it is – an important part of your community’s economic base

So there you have it, statistics and all to prove what everybody in tourism already knows – that the tourism industry is a major sector in the region and one that needs better and more consistent policy decisions if it is going to continue to be important. Currently, tourism seems to be the “black sheep” in our economic family with many decisions made by Provincial and Federal Governments doing more harm than good.

There’s a time to listen and that time is now!