THUNDER BAY, ON ---- January 22, 2011 ---- Turning the abandoned Kinghorn rail line into a four-season trail is one small piece of a complicated puzzle. Communities along the North Shore of Superior have been struggling for many years with the collapse of the forestry industry, mine closures and of course, the declining tourism industry.
Each community along the North Shore is trying to create a brand that will be recognizable to others outside the region. Terrace Bay is undertaking a downtown revitalization and rebranding project. Schreiber recently celebrated its 125th anniversary building upon its railroad history. Nipigon recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and built the Paddle to the Sea Park. Red Rock is working on its marina and Dorion has the canyons and a growing birding festival. All of this is happening within the new National Marine Conservation Area.
The communities rely heavily on trying to get the rubber tire traffic that is already passing through this district to stop. This proves to be difficult as the initial cost of highway signage is expensive, production and distribution of brochures can be daunting and the Internet requires some form of expertise to create.
This is difficult for these communities as there are constant struggles with funding, manpower and tiring infrastructure.
Some communities only have one person dedicated to tourism (on a part-time basis as they are often saddled with many other responsibilities) while other communities are relying on volunteers to do this work.
Partnerships with organizations such as the North of Superior Tourism and the new regional tourism organizations (a work in progress) are a part of a process that will tie the region together and can take on advertising outside of our district.
Tourism supports local entry-level jobs, creates a tax base and is a renewable export business (good memories are the product). This industry brings money in from the outside and can mean the difference between the success or failure of a small business.
It is up to both the public and private sector to step up to the plate and promote the region as a whole while identifying each individual community’s identity that makes the region unique and interesting. Let’s hope the feasibility study for the Kinghorn Line Trail is positive and puts another piece of the puzzle in place.