Travel Activities and Motivations Survey

U.S. Travellers who visited Northern Ontario — A Profile for Marketing Implications

Full report available in pdf format

February 2007



  • More active than other American travellers
  • Seek undiscovered and less built up destinations
  • More sensitive to costs than other American travellers
  • Value accessibility by car more than other modes of transportation
  • Are not traveling to be pampered or stay in luxury accommodation
  • Have higher incomes compared to other American travellers
  • Are older couples (average age 48.3) without young children
  • A majority uses past experience as an important source of information for planning their trips
  • Are more educated than other American travellers
  • A majority of them make their travel decisions over the Internet (accommodation, air tickets and car rentals)


Move away from family-orientation

  • Product development could move away from being family-oriented to being specifically designed for adults. 49.2% of US travellers to Northern Ontario indicated that "having lots of things for adults to see and do" was highly important in their considerations for a travel destination, while 58.6% indicated that "having lots of things for children to see and do" was of no importance. In addition, only 27.3% lived with children under 17.

Camping as a popular activity

  • Camping is seen to be of significant interest for US travellers who have visited Northern Ontario. In fact, 34% of them have participated in camping activities while on overnight trips compared to only 17% of other US travellers. Supporting this is the fact that 53.3% of US travellers to Northern Ontario indicated that luxury accommodation was of no importance in their travel making decisions and only 11.1% indicated that it was highly important.

A niche market for nature-based activities

  • Although dining at restaurants that offer local ingredients and shopping at clothing, shoe and jewellery shops are activities that are common to most US travellers to Northern Ontario, they are also common to most US travellers in general. Of the most frequently mentioned activities by travellers who had visited Northern Ontario, there are a number which relate to the natural environment (fresh water fishing, camping, visiting well known natural wonders and visiting national or provincial/state nature parks).
  • There were also a number of specialized nature-based activities (mainly fresh water fishing, viewing flora and fauna, hunting and visiting nature parks) that were listed as main reasons for taking a trip.
  • There exists an opportunity to capitalize on the existence of specialized outdoor activities in the North.
  • The remoteness of the North is also an influential factor as 40% of US visitors to Northern Ontario indicated that they prefer to visit undiscovered places before too many hotels and restaurants are built, compared to 26.1% of all other US travellers.
  • However, given the importance of activities such as shopping and dining, there is a need to emphasize that these activities are available alongside of the specialized, nature-based activities.


  • Northern Ontario's primary travel market includes US residents residing in the Near Market within 300 km of the Ontario Border. Although the long-haul market (Tier 3 and Tier 4) generated most of the US travellers visiting Northern Ontario (primarily because of its population size), it had a much lower incidence of Northern Ontario visitation when compared to the Near Market.
  • Proximity to Ontario (Tier 1 and 2) is a factor in predicting travel to North Ontario by Americans. Age and participation in fresh water fishing also influenced the probability of traveling to Northern Ontario, but when compared to distance these factors (age and fresh water fishing) are somewhat less important.
  • The long-haul regions (Tier 3 and 4) also had a higher percentage of travellers visiting other provinces in Canada. However, travellers in the near market (Tier1 and 2) had a higher incidence of visiting Ontario than other provinces in Canada.


  • For the long-haul market, 2 states and 2 major urban areas emerged as potential visitor markets for Northern Ontario:
    • California and in particular Los Angeles
    • Texas and in particular Huston and
    • For the near markets, Illinois, and in particular Chicago emerged as a potential visitor market for Northern Ontario.
  • These areas had the highest incidence of Americans who did not visit Ontario, rated it highly and indicated that at least 1 of Northern Ontario's intrinsic activities was main reason for taking a trip in the past 2 years.