Shipwreck Tourism in the Works for Superior
Posted on: May 6, 2016

It’s hard to deny: shipwrecks are fascinating, and Lake Superior has its fair share. Have you ever had the urge to strap on scuba gear and explore them?

You just might get the chance, thanks to the efforts of local divers and tourism advocates.

Richard Harvey, mayor of Nipigon, ON and an avid diver, told CBC earlier this week that there is effort underway to bring dive tourism to the region. Right now, the hope is to bring a world-renowned dive team just offshore of Trowbridge Island to explore sunken freighter Theano. If this venture is successful, Harvey suggests that a marketing strategy aimed at expert divers would then be in the works.

Harvey told CBC that the site has not been well-explored until now. “It’s right there, it’s a deep wreck starting at about 270 feet, so this is not a typical recreational dive,” he said. “This is a technical diver’s type of site, but it brings attention to our area if we have the success there that we’re hoping to have.”

Another tourism goal is to create a buoy-led trail of shipwrecks from Marathon, ON to the northeast shores of Superior on the U.S. side of the border. The idea is to mark shipwrecks with buoys to make them more visible to interested divers and sightseers. Harvey says completion of the trail would allow avid divers to develop their own dive vacation on the North Shore.

“People come into the area, can start at either end and go right through the entire region, diving every day on a different wreck.” The project is already underway but the hope is to expand it. If the buoy-trail project is developed to its fullest extent, it would provide a good start to develop marketing and identify the attraction to potential tourists.

Talks about shipwreck tourism have been mounting for some time.The ideas were first brought to media attention by Harvey and other eager advocates in 2013.

A year ago, the township of Nipigon called in diving consultant Steve Lewis to assess the quality of local shipwrecks and their potential to draw tourism dollars to local economies. In a presentation to stakeholders at the Prince Arthur Hotel, Lewis stated that the wrecks could draw up to 300 divers a year from around the world. He told CBC that these divers are well-off enough that they could sink up to $1 million into local economies.

Lewis stated that the key to developing dive tourism in Northwestern Ontario is to document and map what’s underwater. With any luck, the buoy project and Theano dive will provide a solid start to putting Lake Superior on the map for dive tourism.


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