An open letter to the Northeast Town council

A call to reconsider not investing in the future of the cruise industry on Manitoulin

Dear Mayor Alan MacNevin and members of council:

News of your recent decision to not contribute to funding your community’s share of membership in the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition has been published and I would offer the following comments. Your $2,000 share of membership in the GLCC, which costs three stakeholders a total of $5,000 per year, has been an excellent investment for the town of Little Current and has paid dividends in sustainable revenue for the community and its partners. Because of these promotional efforts, Manitoulin Island has developed a reputation as a “must see” and “must visit” destination in the Great Lakes, on par with Mackinac Island for popularity and patronage. The Little Current membership consortium has been led by the Great Spirit Circle Trail, a creative aboriginal tourism community with many years’ experience in the cruise business and it is they, along with Lakeshore Excursions, that have spearheaded the drive to raise the profile of Little Current as the access point for the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, which has provided a unique cultural experiences for visitors to enjoy.

Each cruise ship in the Great Lakes currently calls at Little Current, tying up adjacent to the front street opposite most of your stores and retail outlets. It is safe to say that each of those traders have benefitted from the cruise business, as well as your “invisible” service providers such as coach companies, guides, food suppliers, garbage disposal firms, engineering companies and the rental of space on your waterfront mooring wall. You may remember that it was not too long ago that this downtown mooring wall was in desperate condition, in need of considerable repair and I am confident in saying that without the presence of these cruise ships, Little Current would have been challenged to make a solid case for infrastructure funding that resulted in such a handsome rebuild of the facility. In many respects the cruise business played a pivotal role in attracting that funding and has contributed towards the wellbeing of the town and region.

The work that the GLCC does on behalf of Little Current far exceeds the investment of $5,000 per year and not a day goes by without us making a case for cruise ships visiting your community. We are able to work on your behalf because your investment allows our outreach program to promote the town. Without that funding, our ability to take Little Current to the cruise market is severely diminished and absolutely unable to continue.

I would urge council to revisit their decision and remain a part of this most effective marketing trade association

Yours truly,

Stephen Burnett, executive director

The Great Lakes Cruising Coalition