July and August US traffic to Thunder Bay at the Pigeon River Border Crossing showed declines in 2010, a sign that the U.S. economic slowdown, dollar parity and border identification issues continuing to challenge travel patterns.
In July, 17,570 US residents crossed into Canada south of the city, down a modest 3% from 18 190 a year ago. A 3% decline is not a significant concern given the economic environment. 2916 residents took same day trips, 657 stayed a single night and 13997 stayed 2 plus nights.
In August, however, traffic was 15,082, down a significant 16% from a high of 18 043 a year ago. 2907 were day trippers, while 629 stayed a single night and 11546 stayed 2 plus nights.
In both months, same day and single overnight traffic trends remained largely stable, with the biggest hit coming in the multi night stays, consistent with consumer travel data projections for the year that indicated that many travellers would be taking shorter vacations.
However, the local accommodation industry has reported an increase in summer time overnight U.S. traffic, specifically in the motorcycle and lake superior touring segments. These observations and data point to a shift in the US consumer's travel motivators from the traditional angling experience seekers to the touring vacationers and tells us that our marketing and product development focus should shift somewhat towards the touring markets within the U.S. In 2010, we enhanced our AAA media partnerships within key U.S. mid west states as well as other a continued Lake Superior magazine presence and other touring oriented promotional tools, including a new motor sport rally sponsorship program that supported two events.
The Lake Superior Circle Tour is one of North America's most scenic and unique driving destinations and we have some fantastic regional media channels such as Lake Superior Magazine, the North of Superior Circle Tour initiative and Superior Outdoors promoting the basin's lifestyle and experiences. Significant opportunities to grow awareness of the basin that translate into new visitation exist. We all have to come together in a bi national collaborative partnership to not only support these media channels, but develop a more aggressive and cohesive tactical strategy to fulfill the potential and reach new markets.
As always, we're evaluating traffic and economic trends to determine where the shifts are, where growth potential and new markets exist and what channels are working and not working in reaching these targeted experience seekers.