Ontario Waterfront Tourism Summit – January 23rd, 2020

Destination Northern Ontario was pleased to participate in the recent inaugural Waterfront Tourism Summit hosted by Boating Ontario in conjunction with North America’s largest indoor boat show in Toronto.

Boating contributes $4 billion to the provincial economy with $1.7 billion in annual boat purchases (new and used).  Ontario represents 39% of the boating industry in Canada; Quebec is  a distant second at 21%.  While we often think of larger boats, it’s the small boats that  are most popular within the sector.

Growing waterfront tourism is a priority for Ontario with Ontario Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Minister Lisa MacLeod announcing the development of the Ontario Waterways Strategy.

Re-orienting ourselves to arrive in communities via boat through the waterfront has proven to revitalize and transform our downtowns.  To attract boaters, attention should be paid to ease of access, safe docking and mooring, and improved wayfinding.

Certainly, amenities also influence visitation with consideration given to clean washrooms including showers, lounges, tourism information, services, parks for children and dogs, walking trails, power and staffing, along with waterfront events and activities.  Marinas that offer multiple services and cater to other tourists, such as cyclists, can be profitable.

Boaters do travel and trailer their boats, with 59% of the segment travelling 50-500 km.  Proximity to market may be a challenge for Northern Ontario; however, with a significant home-grown population of boaters and proximity to Southern Ontario, Michigan, and Minnesota boat owners, there is an opportunity to grow boating tourism in Northern Ontario.

Destination Northern Ontario, in partnership with communities, destinations and marinas, has developed and in the process of implementing a boating strategy for Northern Ontario.

Click Here to read the Boating Product Development Strategy.