FINA Fails To Lure Tourists


The temporary FINA pool at the WFCU Arena prior to the 2016 short course competition.Photo by Ian Shalapata.

The temporary FINA pool at the WFCU Arena prior to the 2016 short course competition.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Tuomi-HeaderEarly results suggest the estimated $20 million the city of Windsor spent to cover the costs of FINA’s December swimming competition will not produce a tourist bonanza. Global travel deals publisher Travelzoo has just released its Spring Travel Trends Survey.

While it shows an uptick in popularity of Canada, the most popular attractions do not include Windsor.

Interest in visiting Canada for Americans and Germans nearly doubled from 2016. More tourists from China, Spain, and Britain are also expected.

Canadians, on the other hand, plan to see more of their country and the Caribbean. Last year their top choice was the United States. Canada’s top must-see destinations are Banff and Lake Louise in the Rocky Mountains and Ontario’s Niagara Falls.

A December 2016 online questionnaire was completed by 7,349 Travelzoo members in Canada, China, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This was during the FINA event and should have increased interest in Windsor, if the hype about the swimming competition was accurate.

Interim mayor Drew Dilkens himself led the pretense by predicting billions would watch the television coverage; almost a third of the world. If they were impressed no doubt they would now be flooding Windsor.

That has yet to happen.

Probably one of the reasons was the lack of significant media interest. None of the main networks of Canada’s television broadcasters had any coverage. Apparently, the city knew this in advance and agreed to pay $1.4 million (US) to set up a broadcast unit to send out its own streaming coverage.

This would not be needed if swimming was popular.

This year’s Super Bowl in Houston, TX, was reportedly watched by over 110 million people. CNBC reported on January 31, 2016, that the Super Bowl was, “… the most watched sporting event in the entire world.”

It was a small audience compared to FINA, although, realistically the audience claims made by Dilkens were suspect from the get go. Foreigner Peter Knowles, hired to run the competition, confessed to the Windsor Star, on December 14 last year, that swimming is not, “… a mass spectator sport in Canada.”

This is not the first time Knowles has said this.

He ran the event a few years back in Manchester, England. He basically said the same thing.

With swimming having little success as a spectator sport, why would the city waste so much money and make so many dubious claims? It smacks of the type of bravado also associated with the International Children’s Games.

The ICG, remember, was supposed to showcase Windsor to the world. It did not. There were no broadcasts of the event and even less media coverage.

When will the city cotton onto the fact that real cities don’t have to buy their way to fame?

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About the Author

Robert Tuomi
After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields. Email Robert Tuomi