| Sep 11, 2008

Sept 11, 2008 - LOLTA Summer Survey

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Feature Article - September 11, 2008 Summer 'Not that Bad', Finds LOLTA Survey

The Land O'Lakes Tourist Association released the results of a survey of their members this week. Twenty-six of the 200 member businesses answered the survey (13%) and the results confirmed that the summer of 2008 was not a banner year for tourism in the Land o' Lakes although it may not have been as bad as people had feared.

Of the respondents, 57% said business was down from 2007, 36% said it was up, and 7% said it was the same.

“As a marketing organization, we concentrated on the 'near market' with our materials this year because we knew that a variety of factors would attract new travelers from the United States,” said LOLTA manager Terry Shea, “and since 50% of the people said it was a better summer than they expected it would be, we think our focus on the 200 km radius around the Land O'Lakes worked pretty well.”

Twenty-five percent of the respondents said the summer had been worse than expected, and 25% said it was as they had forecast.

The decline in out-of-province traffic did hurt, however. Forty-two percent said the majority of their business comes from further than 200 km, and an equal number said the main negative influence was gas prices.

But the gas price factor might be overstated, according to Terry Shea. “People are still going to do what they are going to do. They are seeking an experience, and while they may decide to travel shorter distances, families are still traveling for their vacations. Factors that have nothing to do with gas prices, border issues, or fishing regulations, have a far greater impact than we might think. The weather was listed by 30% of respondents as the major negative factor, and there is nothing anyone can do about the weather,” said Terry Shea.

According to Shea, the survey demonstrated that for most tourist-related businesses 2008 was a year they “just had to get through,” in hopes that the combination of factors working against the industry will not be repeated in 2009.

For LOLTA itself, 2008 marks the end of a tourism marketing initiative that was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

In its stead LOLTA is pursuing a strategy of “accessible wilderness” to make the Land o’ Lakes a destination for the 7% of Ontarians that have physical disabilities. Funding is being sought from OMAFRA and from the Eastern Ontario Development Fund.

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