Thompson tourism brand part of multi-pronged effort to attract business, service, adventure tourists

Thompson Hotel Association executive director Keith MacDonald briefed the Thompson Chamber of Commerce about the recently created Thompson tourism brand at their last lunch meeting of 2019 Dec. 11.

The brand, developed by McKim Communications in partnership with Travel Manitoba and input from local stakeholders, “was inspired by the fluid organic lines that are hallmarks of both traditional and modern Indigenous at expression in Manitoba,” said McKim executive vice-president Audra Lesosky in a video MacDonald played for chamber members. “It takes its inspiration from the northern lights, but it’s also open to interpretation. Some will see the sharp boreal treeline. For others, it’ll evoke the idea of flowing water and the falls.”

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Originally unveiled in Thompson in mid-September, the Thompson and region tourism brand includes the tagline “The North is Calling” and is intended to inspire adventurous travellers attracted to the wilderness. McKim provided a toolkit including recommended fonts and colours to use when incorporating the brand logo into advertisements.

Thompson’s place brand is the 13th new one developed in Manitoba over the past few years, said MacDonald, and the hotel association recently launched a website – visitthompson.org.

“The idea behind the website is really to promote the region,” he said. “We put stories on there of the history of Thompson and the iconic figures that developed it.”

One of the keys to expanding the Northern Manitoba tourism industry, which accounts for $82 million in annual spending right now, is to work with Indigenous tourism operators and organizations, MacDonald says. 

“About one in three international visitors are interested in Indigenous tourism experiences,” he said. “But it has to be done the proper way. We have to be respectful and get people involved in the know and it has to be led by Indigenous people.”

To that end, the hotel association is working with Keewatin Tribal Council to promote Thompson as a destination for events and is trying to set up meetings with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO). The Thompson Hotel Association also intends to work with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and hopes to bring their Manitoba representative up to Thompson in January.

The next stage in promoting Thompson and region includes developing a three-year action plan to create a tourism marketing organization and to create relationships with tourism entrepreneurs. 

“Once we create this plan we’ll present it to the city and get some more support from them,” said MacDonald.

That plan will include a budget for the proposed tourism marketing organization.

“I have to develop that budget and present it to the city,” said MacDonald, who thinks the investment will pay off if more tourists come to the Thompson area and those that already do stay a little longer.

“It’s an economic development opportunity,” he said. “Travel Manitoba will be a huge ally for us because they’re the marketing experts so we’ll also be relying on what they do as well.”

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