Destination Northern Ontario was selected as the recipient of the 2022 Economic Developers Council Of Ontario (EDCO) Awards of Excellence, Tourist Attraction & Tourism Product Development Urban Award category during the EDCO President’s Dinner and Awards Ceremony in Toronto, Ontario.
This award was for the “Northern Ontario Cycling Route/Trail Expansion Initiative”. This project builds upon the success of the Lake Huron North Channel Cycling Route/Trail with the development of an approximate 1,000 km cycling trail from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay and to the United States border at the Pigeon River International Bridge in Minnesota. This is the largest single cycling trail development project ever developed in Ontario and it will also be designated as part of the national Trans Canada Trail network. The route includes 24 GIS-based sub-maps with an overall master cycling route/trail map. A key feature is that this trail will be added to the 3,600 km of the province-wide branded Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, an online mapped and signed cycling route.
The cycling industry is one of the fastest-growing tourism and recreational activities and caters to all age groups. Cycling tourism is a key product for Northern Ontario and it is essential that the cycling infrastructure in all northern communities is properly connected to the provincial cycling network, professionally developed, mapped, and appropriately marketed.
Tourism figures from the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport, show that in 2019 Northern Ontario had 20,682 cycling tourists of which 9,508 were from Ontario, 3,501 were from other regions of Canada and 7,673 were international. Using the ministry’s Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model (TREIM) this represents an economic impact in Northern Ontario of $11.89 million annually, supporting 104 jobs and generating $3.86 million in taxes to all three levels of government.
This initiative involves 11 communities and 27 organizations including the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Parks Canada, and conservation authorities. This project would not be possible without the direct assistance and funding from key stakeholders including Destination Northern Ontario, Waterfront Regeneration Trust, Canadian Automobile Association, Trans Canada Trail, Superior Country, Algoma Country, and FedNor.
This EDCO award clearly demonstrates that Destination Northern Ontario’s cycling product in Northern Ontario is not only good for tourism but good for economic development in Ontario as well.