This past week, I was thrilled to be part of the Travel Media Association of Canada’s annual conference hosted by our very own Sault Ste. Marie. Travel writers, bloggers, vloggers, and photographers from across the country enjoyed experience after experience in our community before the association’s annual general meeting.
As the only local member of the association in the Sault, I got to play tourist in my own town, revisiting places that I love, making new memories as well, and getting to see the Sault through the eyes of fellow travel professionals.
From the mayor’s welcome at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion where we were introduced to local beer and Beavertails, to the final dinner at The Machine Shop, everyone was entertained and well fed. There was also a ‘dine around’ where we were hosted by many amazing eateries, including some who don’t usually open for dinner, including my vegetarian meal at Vibe Eatery.
Hosted at Delta Sault Ste. Marie, we attended professional development sessions, heard a keynote speaker talk about responsible tourism, planted two trees to commemorate TMAC’s 25 years, and in between meetings were whisked for various local tours.
To showcase the community, Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp.’s Tourism Sault Ste Marie curated a collection of phenomenal experiences to wow association members, and they did not disappoint.
I went fat biking up on the trails at Hiawatha with Jan from Velorution leading our pack of six writers and industry members. Others went fly fishing, golfing, river fishing, took lock tours, visited our Parks Canada National Historic site, enjoyed culinary tours, paddled the St Mary’s in voyageur canoes with Canoes for Conservation, were chauffeured for a Lake Superior coastal drive, or had a Group of Seven experience.
To make the travel professionals’ time even more memorable, there were overnight experiences before the conference began, including rides on the Agawa Tour Train (with an Indigenous or Group of Seven focus), glamping at Ontario Park’s Pancake Bay, and paddling with Naturally Superior Adventures. There were also a number of unique and different fishing experiences, including at Mar Mac Lodge, Bruce Bay cottages, Outpost Lodge, and Wakomata Resort, showcasing our naturally gifted surroundings.
Every night at dinner, I eavesdropped or was told about everyone’s experiences, and heard rave reviews about our community and the surroundings. Sure there were the usual complaints about the bugs, but our hosts had prepared us with bug spray in welcome bags.
I found myself shuttling groups, during breaks, up to see Crystal Falls, which is truly in its glory right now with an exuberant flow of water, so that more of my new friends could see what is right in our backyard. One of those times a snapping turtle was posing under the walkway, as though placed there for a wildlife viewing experience.
As I went north on the highway with one group, we also saw moose and had sunny weather. Even Mother Nature was co-operating to show off our community.
There is definitely no lack of experiences to be had and memories to be made in our community.
If you’re wondering what to do this summer with your vacation, it might be as easy as picking up the telephone and calling Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.