Statistics Canada and the Canadian Border Services Agency have released the July 2009 travel statistics and we are pleased to see a continued pattern of U.S travellers entering Canada south of Thunder Bay increasing modestly over last year.
The number of U.S. Residents entering Canada by automobile at Pigeon River was 18,190 in July 2009, compared to 17,977 in 2008, a 1% increase over 2008.
While declines this year have been noted in day trips (3303 in 2008 to 2856 in 2009) and one night stays (722 in 2008 down to 667 in 2009), the growth has occurred in the two plus night travel markets which saw an increase from 13,952 in 2008 to 14,667 in 2009, an increase of 5%. The increase in longer stays is also important to note in that it increases the economic impact on the city and region with each longer stay. This also indicates that the travel was planned in advance of visitors leaving their homes rather than spontaneous day tripping.
Given the continued struggling North American economy and new Passport identification issues, these sustained travel patterns and areas of growth are an encouraging sign that shifts in tourism marketing towards U.S. experience based travel markets by Tourism Thunder Bay, OTMPC and other tourism partners are having an effect at countering the losses felt in other jurisdictions. Anecdotaly, we have heard of increased motorcycle and RV travel from area partners and believe these new touring markets represent the future growth potential for the city as part of the larger Lake Superior Circle Tour experience.