Breathers builds on past success

Breathers, an ambitious Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation program aimed at promoting mini-vacations in the province, is on the right track, according to ministry officials.Ontario launched Breathers late last year in an effort to revitalize the province's drooping tourism industry.And...

Breathers, an ambitious Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation program aimed at promoting mini-vacations in the province, is on the right track, according to ministry officials.

Ontario launched Breathers late last year in an effort to revitalize the province’s drooping tourism industry.

And Mary Ann Lanyon, director of the ministry’s tourism marketing branch, says reaction from the tourism industry and business sector has been positive, and the idea of one- to three- day mini-trips is catching on.

Meeting expectations

‘For the most part, these people are saying they’ve met their expectations,’ Lanyon says.

The tourism ministry is supporting Breathers with $2.7 million in marketing funds to be spent over the next three to five years.

The majority of the money is to be spent on television, newspaper and radio advertising.

Although marketing data will not be available until late October or early November, Lanyon says preliminary tracking research indicates ‘we’re doing well with the campaign in terms of consumers and their awareness of it.’

Additionally, despite the generally poor weather Ontario had during the summer, several Ontario resorts and small businesses have reported business increases for the period, and they have pointed to Breathers as one of the reasons.

Ontario’s tourism ministry began advertising Breathers in the spring with an extensive 13-week tv campaign and inserts in 20 newspapers across southern Ontario.

The ministry’s ad agency for advertising within the province is Promanad Communications of Mississauga, Ont.

Last month, tourism officials rolled out phase two of its marketing plan with an English and French radio campaign, slated to run in southwestern Ontario until Oct. 14.

On Nov. 7, the ministry will launch a winter campaign with half-page ads appearing in 18 newspapers in southern Ontario and in parts of Quebec and Manitoba.

The ads will feature winter festivals across the province.

More newspaper ads will appear Jan. 23 and Feb. 6, detailing winter getaways and ski events.

The ministry of Tourism’s efforts to build awareness of the Breathers concept is aided by partnerships it has developed with regional travel associations, resorts and hotels.

Many of these groups are aligning themselves with the program in their own ads and brochures.

For example, the Intercontinental Hotel in Quebec recently featured Breathers in a co-op ad, sharing the cost of the ad with the Ontario ministry.

In Orillia Ont., the business development association paid for its own Breathers television campaign.

Tags

And Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts in Ontario ran Breathers tags in its radio ads. cp paid for the ads, but used creative supplied by the ministry.

Lanyon says industry interest in the program is running so high ‘people are picking up on the program, even without our funding.’

And travellers will soon be able to book Breathers get-away vacations on the ministry’s new central reservation and information system, which is available on a 1-800-ONTARIO phone line.

This system, developed in conjunction with the tourism industry, will be phased in over the next few years.

More than 4,000 people a day called the number seeking summer travel information.