The Temiskaming Loop, a motorcycle touring route that guides riders along winding roads in the picturesque countryside of northeastern Ontario, is listed as one of the top 10 motorcycle rides in North America, according to the website, Motorcycle.com. It incorporates three different cultures as it snakes along the Ottawa River and the shores of Lake Temiskaming, passing through several small towns and First Nation communities on both sides of the Ontario/Quebec border.
Lois Weston-Bernstein, Business Manager for the Temiskaming Shores & Area Chamber of Commerce (formerly the Tri-Town and District Chamber of Commerce) credits FedNor for supporting a youth intern to kick-start the project.
“Back in 2009, there was talk about establishing a loop tour but nothing much happened until we secured FedNor funding to hire an intern who recorded the inventory of assets along the route,” recalls Weston-Bernstein. “All of the information pertaining to tourism-related activities, accommodations, businesses and attractions formed the basis of a huge database, a critical step in establishing the loop tour.”
The Chamber Business Manager notes that tourism is extremely important to the region’s communities whose economies are intertwined.
“There’s so much more to our area than rocks and trees. Tourism is an important economic pillar, along with agriculture, mining, forestry and our retail and service hub.”
The initial launch of the multi-cultural tourism product in 2010 was a collaborative effort involving 19 partner communities in the region that stretches from Earlton to Temagami. According to Weston-Bernstein, the relationships that developed over time were the icing on the cake.
“We are all working for the benefit of the region. We sit around a table and collaborate to create the best product. Some of us only speak English and some only speak French, yet we’re building ties and learning so much about each other. We are bringing in people to tour around the lake, but we could not have done it without the cooperation and partnerships around Lake Temiskaming. The FedNor Intern’s help was instrumental in helping us get the ball rolling."
A decade later, in June 2019, the region welcomed its first international familiarization (FAM) tour to introduce members of the travel trade to the area’s attractions, some of which are part of the Lake Temiskaming Tour. Organized by Destination Northern Ontario and hosted by Northeastern Ontario Tourism, Temiskaming Shores was one of four Northern communities included in the tour.
“International visitors have already visited some of our iconic sites,” says Natalie Chartrand, Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Temiskaming Shores. “Now they’re looking for unique experiences where they can connect with nature. Northern Ontario has a tremendous opportunity because it has the products that customers want. It is just a matter of packaging the experiences for marketing. By participating in the FAM tour, we are raising our profile so that international tourists are aware of our offerings, and then, can send us people.”
The FAM tour is the culmination of many years of hard work to be market-ready and to grow the region’s tourism sector. The City of Temiskaming Shores, in partnership with Destination Northern Ontario, has also promoted the Lake Temiskaming Tour at Rendez-vous Canada, the country’s signature international tourism marketplace where qualified international buyers may meet one-on-one with Canada’s tourism professionals to explore and market Canadian tourism product(s).
Building on the success of the Lake Temiskaming tour, the community partners have developed a passport contest that runs this year from May 1 to September 30. The initiative, now in its third year, encourages participants to embark on the lake tour adventure, taking in 20 stops along the way where they may get their passport stamped. Those who complete at least 12 stops are eligible for prizes. In addition to the itinerary, the passport highlights festivals, local food products and farmers’ markets to extend visitors’ stay in the region.
With the online passport, organizers can track visitors to learn more about who they are, where they come from and what they like to do. With that information, they will tweak their itinerary and/or marketing to increase visitor numbers.
This project is but one example of the types of initiatives funded by FedNor that support of the Federal Strategy on Jobs and Tourism and the Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario.