The Thunder Bay city and district hotel occupancies paint a bright spot in what nationally, is a gloomy year in the hotel industry. The latest report from HVS, the national hotel performance tracking gurus, shows year to date performance for the Thunder Bay area at 0.0%.
While stagnation year over year is not usually anything to get excited about, this number is important in that is one of only three markets in Canada that have not reported declines in year to date room demand over 2008. Montreal downtown has also reported 0.0% and Windsor reported a staggering 5.6% growth. Everyone else, however, is down. The weekly reports for June paint mixed results but still, much better performance than other Canadian markets. with the unprecedented challenges facing the Canadian tourism economy this year, our performance measurement is not going to be based as much on past years but rather, how we are statistically performing against other cities. Stagnation this year should be looked at as being a good as growth.
For the Thunder Bay the shift has been largely due to healthy corporate travel markets and significant business within the meeting and convention segment. Tourism Thunder Bay is a member of Ontario's North a collective involving the City, Timmins, North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie. The group has worked on cooperative campaigns focused on travel trade, travel media, corporate and touring. In 2008, we disbanded the corporate marketing element of the partnership to focus on Thunder Bay and its strategic advantages over over northern Ontario cities. The results have been an enormous increase in leads starting in 2008 that we have determined has had a role in maintaining healthy traffic patterns in an challenging economic environment.
We estimate that June to September performance will be moderately decreased due to the decreased corporate markets over the summer vacation months and a general trend in decreased leisure travel. However, early indications for the fourth quarter paint a busy fall and winter for the corporate and sport tourism markets.
We are working on innovative ways to help fuse the corporate and elisure markets togetheer through the marketing of the city as a destination with a difference - the chance for meeting and conference participants to get out of the hotel and meeting rooms to explore the cities attraactions, galleries and culinary treasures. We started this program with the Canadian Armed Forces SAREX conference in October 2008 by having a concierge booth at the conference headquarters, providing information to the event participant on restaurants, golf, fishing, kayaking and other side trips they could take. Mixing business with wellness activities is an emerging trend and one that will continue to set us apart from other cities.
You can track local hotel performance yourself and read the HSV weekly reports at http://www.hvs.com/Library/Articles/?cat=12