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Tourism North Bay hopes to keep 2019 momentum going

Tourism North Bay’s impressive 2019 numbers have proven to be valuable as its budget is slated to be balanced by the end of 2020.

Steve Dreany, Executive Director of Tourism North Bay gave a presentation to city council on Tuesday, revealing a revenue surplus.

Tourism’s 2019 budget projected net revenue of just under $42,000. The actual net revenue from 2019 was over $211,000.

The presentation outlined how Tourism took $46,000 from the Municipal Accommodation Tax payout and leveraged it into a nearly $1-million value. This was done through investing in events throughout 2019 such as the International Plowing Match which allows Tourism North Bay to have a marketing presence at widely-attended events.

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The successful 2019 has led to Tourism North Bay being a self-sufficient entity of the city in 2020. When the pandemic was looming in the spring, Tourism retooled its strategy to forecast the expected hit to the industry.

As they had predicted, a 50 percent drop was seen in June 2020 from the previous year. Tourism used the $211,000 in revenue to remain self-sufficient, expecting to end 2020 with a balanced budget.

In August, North Bay’s tourism and cultural industry received nearly $700,000 in relief from the provincial government to help the sectors stay afloat during the pandemic.

Dreany says that Tourism North Bay was planning on being self-sufficient in 2020 using the revenue surplus, but the provincial money has been a huge help.

“We would have had to cut back so significantly and so dramatically on all of our marketing that all we would have been able to do was keep the doors open. Because of some of the recovery funds and some of the stuff the government has been able to do, we’re going to be in good shape,” Dreany said, adding that he fears that Tourism North Bay’s momentum has been slowed by the pandemic.

Dreany also commended the job of the restaurant industry when questioned about it after his presentation. Citing Minister of Heritage, Sport, Culture, and Tourism, Lisa MacLeod, Dreany says that the restaurant industry was the first to feel the effects of the pandemic, and will be the ones who will feel the effects the longest.

While he did not have exact figures on the local restaurant industry, the fact that most have been able to stay open so far Dreany called “a true testament to their resiliency.”

When asked about when the tourism sector will be able to return to normal, Dreany said that it will likely take at least two years to get back to the strength shown in 2019. He adds that they are beginning marketing campaigns in larger cities like Ottawa and Toronto to draw tourists to the area for the fall months.

Dreany’s pitch to Ontarians is simple.

“You’re able to come here and experience all of the outdoor adventures that everybody is looking for with the social distancing; but also at the same time, you’re able to stay in first-class, urban hotels,” Dreany explained. 

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