Tuesday, June 15, 2010

April Hotel Performance Shows Continued Rebound in Local Segment

April continues to show a rebound in the North American travel market with another month of modest increases in the local hotel occupancy scene.

According to the latest PKF National Market Report, Thunder Bay's April occupancy rate was 68.2% up 1.6 points from April 2009's high of 66.6%. REVPAR for April was up 3.8% to $65.28 from $62.88 a year ago.

The Ontario April average occupancy rate rose 3.7% to 57.5% with REVPAR increasing 10% to $69.25. This growth was largely the result of a rebound in the GTA markets although smaller markets reported some positive results in a mixed marketplace.

April's modest gains was largely the result of increased corporate travel to the city. It was a month with few notable sport tourism events and is typically a slower leisure travel month.

We provide these updates as an information source to our local tourism partners locally and encourage our tourism partners to contact PKF directly at www.pkfcanada.com for more detailed reports that pertain to their business planning exercises.

Toronto Star Reveals Readers' Love of Thunder Bay

Toronto Star readers like Thunder Bay. They really like us.

Alright, an old Sally Field quote aside, Thunder Bay got a great little mention in this past weekend's Toronto Star Travel section. They have been asking their readers what their favorite Canadian place is and they responded. Thunder Bay was up there with Tofino and PEI....Not bad company to keep at all!

Even the headline hinted at a bit of a surprise at our placement. "Our Readers Love Tofino - and PEI And Even Thunder Bay"

while the article duly notes that Thunder Bay is not an obvious tourist centric community, its eclectic Finn culture and connection to Superior, Sleeping Giant and Canyon Country, combined with great family oriented museums like Fort William Historical Park, made for a memorable trip for one particular family.

And this supports our goal over the past 3 years. Raising the profile of the community beyond mill town status to a culturally curious community with deep ties to our natural environment and scenery around us and one that surprises visitors once they discover and explore.

That's exactly the type of visitor we're good at attracting - the Explorer. People that want that outdoor experience but than seek the culinary and cultural comforts and quirks of the urban community. They don't expect to find it prior to their first visit, but they do once they arrive.

This demonstrates how we've been able to weave our urban culture into the larger theme of the natural environment and gives us cause to keep pursuing this tack for the foreseeable future.

Lets celebrate each step forward, no matter how modest, in our community's tourism vision.

You can read the entire Toronto Star article here. http://www.thestar.com/travel/article/821385--our-readers-love-tofino-and-pei-and-even-thunder-bay

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Charter Boat Operators Still Operating During Construction

There's no doubt that the phase one waterfront transformation currently underway at Prince Arthur's Landing is going to be spectacular when finished. It is important, to remember, that during construction this year, some things of convenience we take for granted are going to have to be sacrificed.

We're pleased to report that the charter boat perators out of Marina Park are operating as usual through this year and we want to make sure our visitors and tourism partners know who they are and where they're operating out of during construction season.

Archie's Charters, our local Lake Superior fishing tour operator (and resident Up! Magazine celebrity) is operating on pier one on the second dock in to the right off the main pier. To access Archie's, enter the park at the Pearl Street Lights and check in with the security guard who will direct you to the boaters parking area to the right - by the fuel dock and boaters washrooms. Most of Archie's work is pre booked so its good to call ahead to make sure you're on the security list. Contact Archie at 1-807-473-9435 or http://www.archiescharters.com/

SailSuperior.com will be operating off of pier 3 this year, as they always have. With the regular parking area currently within the construction area, those wanting an unforgettable sail tour of the harbour will need to park at the parking lot closest to the Tai Chi Park and skate and BMX Plaza and walk along the trail, over the bridge and towards pier 3. Enter the Park at the north end overpass, turn left at the intersection and head past the play area and band shell to find the parking area. Its a bit of a walk but worth every step once you're aboard with Captain Gregory. For more info, contact http://www.sailsuperior.com/ or call 1-807-628-3333.
This is an exciting transitional year in our city's waterfront and the end result is going to be world class. We want to see our great tour boat operators continue to do well through the construction season, offering visitors to the community some spectacular angling and sailing experiences throughout what is going to be a warm summer.

I encourage all of our tourism partners to help promote our charter operators to their guests.

Pagoda Kicks off its 100th year of Providing Visitor Information

The Pagoda Tourist Information Center opens for the summer season today, June 8th. Summer hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM daily.

The Pagoda turns 100 years old in 2010 and is the longest continually operating tourism information centre in Canada. One hundred years ago, the Port Arthur Board of Trade saw fit to build and operate a tourism information centre adjacent to the CN Rail Station, providing visitors to the City a place to gather information. With construction started in 1909 the centre opened in February 2010.

As part of Tourism week and our celebration of this centre and its milestone, join us on Friday June 11 from 11 AM to 3 PM for cake and coffee at the centre, look at some antique cars on display and re acquaint yourself with this spectacular piece of Thunder Bay's historical architecture.

March Hotel Occupancies Paint Optimistic Picture of Recovery

Hotel occupancy levels in Thunder Bay continue to rebound after 2009's season and although our accommodation sector out performed most in North America last year, its a year everyone in the global tourism industry is happy to have behind them.

According to PKF Consulting data, March 2010 local occupancy levels were 69.3%, up 6.8% from 2009's 62.4%. This is significantly higher than the provincial average of 54.6%, up 3.1% from the previous March. RevPar was up a healthy 10.9% over 2009, averaging $66.86 versus $60.31 a year earlier.

Average daily rates were, however, down slightly (-0.1%) to $96.54 from $96.62 the previous March.

For the first quarter of 2010, average Q 1 occupancy levels in Thunder Bay were 60.5%, up from 57.3% a year earlier. Average daily room rates were up marginally to $95.53and RevPar (revenue per room) was up 5.9% to 57.75 from $54.53 in Q1 2009. All of this compares to a Provincial average of 50.5% occupancy or 0.6% growth. Once again, we're ahead of the trends.

We're attributing a lot of this growth to a healthy corporate travel sector, lead by mining exploration as well as a healthy MC and IT market in other sectors as well. March also saw a increase in participation in the Sleeping Giant Loppet and the city hosting both the North American Ice Yacht Championships and the Cavendish Cup CIS Men's University Hockey Championships, three events that helped increase march sport tourism performance. March's unusually warm weather, with spring break temps in the 20's, likely helped propel family leisure travel modestly as well.

Here's looking to a positive summer for tourism in Thunder Bay.

PKF Canada provides a wide range of services to the tourism and accommodation sectors and we credit them for the quoting of their data with respect to Thunder Bay performance. Tourism Thunder Bay quotes this data as an information service only. Analysis of the local trends is provided by Tourism Thunder Bay. We encourage tourism partners looking for a greater depth of accommodation data to contact PKF at www.pkfcanada.com.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Water Level Study Requests Local Tourism Industry Input

This is an invitation and encouragement to participate in a study of the impact of fluctuating water levels in the Great Lakes on the tourism industry. The International Joint Commission (IJC) has commissioned the study.

Below is a link that will open an on-line survey questionnaire. Please click on the link, or cut and paste it into your web browserʼs address line, to participate in the study. Completing the questionnaire should take approximately 15 minutes. The deadline for submitting responses is June 18, 2010.

Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/57KRDYK

The Recreational Boating, Cruise Ship and Tourism Technical Work Group (TWG) of the IJC is attempting to identify the various components that best determine the impact of high and low water levels which are affected by different water release regimes from the St. Maryʼs River/Lake Superior and then attempt to measure how different release rules would impact recreation boaters, marinas, the cruise ship industry, tourist dependant
businesses and related industries. The social and economic impact of changing water levels on those businesses is of the utmost importance.

As part of its mandate, the TWG is assessing the physical aspects and financial ramifications that fluctuating water levels may have, or are having on tourism related businesses around the Great Lakes. While there is a lot of current data available directly related to the recreational boating and cruise ship industry, very little information is available on the general tourism industry which is estimated to make up 70-80% of the overall
tourism product on the Great Lakes.

The TWG has engaged the Tourism Company, a tourism industry planning and management consulting company (www.tourismco.com) to identify and assess the importance of this portion of the industry, including the impacts of water level fluctuations on tourism businesses in selected study areas. Thunder Bay is one of the study areas.

The survey questionnaire that you are being encouraged to complete (see link, above) is the primary tool being used to gather data for the assessment. The breadth and depth of the study conclusions will be directly related to the level of participation of Thunder Bay tourism businesses in the survey. Survey responses will be kept strictly confidential. In the reporting, responses will only be reported in aggregate. Businesses will not be identified with their responses.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact:

DʼArcy McKittrick
Partner, the Tourism Company
Telephone: (705) 772 8425
Email: darcy@tourismco.com

If you have questions or comments about the study, please contact:
Glenn Warren
Study Co-Chair
Telephone: (705) 698 0523
Email: glenn.warren@persona.ca

Thank you in advance for your assistance.