TORONTO—The Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) spent this past weekend (March 2-4) promoting both cycling and Manitoulin Island tourism for the fifth year in a row at the annual Toronto International Bicycle Show. Maja Mielonen, Guy Nielen and Heidi Krieger spoke to thousands of enthusiasts from the Greater Toronto Area about the myriad of possibilities surrounding cycle tourism that the Island has to offer.
“Tourism is Manitoulin Island’s largest economic driver and cycle tourism has taken firm root contributing further to the tourism industry’s success,” Ms. Mielonen told The Expositor. “Furthermore, it proves to be a particularly sustainable type of tourism, something to be proud of. Maja pointed out that the GTA is Manitoulin’s main catchment area and it is always rewarding to educate its inhabitants about Manitoulin Island.”
MICA has been hard at work for eight years advocating for better cycling conditions and awareness on Manitoulin Island and these efforts are really beginning to pay off. One of MICA’s key lobby efforts is well under way to achieving paved shoulders on three of the Island’s main MTO roads. Potential cycling tourists have received this bit of information with a great deal of enthusiasm. Safe cycling conditions is, not surprisingly, highly valued by this group of active tourists. One cyclist familiar with the Island remarked favourably that drivers take a wide berth around them when they are out on their bikes. This was very good to hear, Ms. Krieger reported. “Well done Islanders,” Ms. Mielonen enthused.
MICA is also busy promoting the Island in general and handed out 1,500 hot-off-the-press copies of the 2018 edition of This is Manitoulin. “After all, we have so much to offer visitors,” Ms. Mielonen continued. “The most frequent comments tend to be around the beauty and variety of landscape, as well as the friendliness of the Islanders. One previous visitor to the Island remarked that she had taken part in a past MICA-sponsored Passage Ride and lodged in Manitowaning.” She now calls Manitowaning home, having recently bought her own home there.
Cycling tourism is an exciting recent addition to Manitoulin. Cyclists are relatively big local spenders, especially those who leave their cars in Tobermory and bring only what they can carry on their bikes. These tourists tend to eat at Island establishments and some Island accommodations are reporting to MICA that 13 to 20 percent of their income comes from cyclists.
Mr. Nielen mentioned that the Bike Show’s participants are expressing an increasing interest in the guided tours that MICA sponsors. The Passage Ride each June now runs at capacity. It brings in 250 riders each year and is always well received. Mr. Nielen has also noted an increased enthusiasm for the more recently introduced five-day All-inclusive Adventure Tour which take place each June and September.
For more visit www.manitoulincycling.com
MICA would like to thank the Island sponsors who made this important promotional work possible, including the municipalities, OSTC, The Expositor, and, of course, the volunteers that helped out during the show.