U.S. visitation to Thunder Bay in January 2011 posted a slight decrease over 2010 but the positive story is that more visitors stayed longer.
While the continued decrease overall is cause for concern, with 1408 U.S. residents crossing into Ontario versus 1476 the previous December, a closer look at the numbers reveals something interesting and somewhat encouraging with respect to increased visitor retention. Obviously, the longer a visitor stays in the city or region, the greater their economic impact so keeping the visitors we have staying and exploring longer, the more that tourism partners benefit.
While the January numbers overall were down, single and 2+ nights saw significant growth. Single night traffic rose from 82 to 130 visitors in 2011 over 2010 while 2+ nights increased from 624 to 720 over 2010. Same day traffic took the the full force of the decline, plummeting
to 558 from 770.
Using Ministry of Tourism regional tourism profile data for the City of Thunder Bay, the average U.S. resident spends an average $238 per visit on overnight trips and only $160 for day trips. Therefore the total economic impact for January 2011 is $291 580 versus $291 228, an ever so slight increase over the previous year. It drives home the point that while the number of visitors is one important measurement, total impact is equally if not more important. Looking beyond the surface, analysing shifting visitation trends and understanding the economic impacts of those shifts is critical to looking at the bigger picture with greater accuracy. Of course we still want to see increased visitation AND spending but its important during these challenging economic times for the overall industry, to celebrate every victory.