Tuesday, May 31, 2011

March U.S. Traffic Update

U.S. visitation to Thunder Bay showed a decline over the previous year, pointing to a continued challenge in attracting close haul markets in the shoulder seasons.

2 180 US residents crossed into Canada at Pigion River this past March, down from 2 813 residents in March 2010.

We saw reductions across all three catagories. Same day traffic dropped to 681 from 916, one night stays dropped to 172 from 193 and multiple night stays dropped to 1 327 from 1 704. Our March U.S. visitation is generally focused on the Cook County source market that sees families and couples head into the city for shopping, theatre, culinary and other getaway activities. Our second market is sport travel, highlited by the popularity of the Sleeping Giant Loppet with U.S. ski enthusiasts as well as hockey, curling and swim events that attract U.S. participants in modest numbers.

High fuel prices and currency parity are issues that have likely contributed to this decline. However, weather is also a factor not to be overlooked. March 2010 was well above seasonal, with a complete snow melt along the highway corridor occuring prior to spring break. This past March, continual cold and snowy weather left the corridor less than ideal for road travel, likely prompting many potential visitors to stay home.

We continue to monitor the economic environment, changes to travel motivators, and evaluating our competitive advantages. This guides us in making adjustments to our marketing and PR strategies in the U.S. source markets. Given that the U.S. is a 330 million person source market starting only 45 minutes south of the city, its foolish to eliminate out US marketing strategies. Rather, we need to continually refine our focus in engaging avid experience seekers who's travel passions and interests align with our product strengths.

Fort William Historical Park Offers Great New Adventures

Fort William Historical Park continues to evolve its already fantastic programming by taking advantage of one of the city's most incredible urban park settings to improve visitor retention.

This year, the Fort is promoting outdoor adventures, including canoe and kayak rentals (Don't worry, they're new so you don't have to worry about patching birch bark). This is a great way to introduce new paddlers to the sport or cater to adventure seekers who want to pack light while touring the region.

The Fort is also promoting overnight tent and RV camping at its recently opened campground and has created nature trails on its own 25 acre island located upstream from the Fort on the fabled Kaministiquia River, a critical water trade route to the exploration and expansion into Western Canada.

And of course, with a full summer schedule of summer weekend events kicking off with Rendezvous with Italy on June 11 and 12 and the historic site open daily, there's more to keep adventure seekers here in the city longer.

Of course, Fort William Historical Park is already one of Canada's top outdoor attractions. The addition of this programming enhances that reputation and builds strength into Thunder Bay's tourism position as one of Canada's Best Outdoor Cities.

Porter Increases Flight Capacity to Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay's reputation as a popular leisure, business and sport tourism destination continues to grow and increased air capacity into the city is expanding with it.

Porter Airlines has increased flight frequency to the Thunder Bay market from Toronto City Centre Airport. Weekday frequency increases to five flights per weekday from three. Sunday frequency increases to four flights and Saturday frequency remains at two flights.

Weekday departures times from Toronto to Thunder Bay are now 7 AM, 9:15 AM, 2:05 PM, 5 PM and 6:55 PM.

Porter's convenience and exceptional reputation for quality has been an asset to helping us attract avid leisure, sport and corporate guests to the city and region. In fact, the April/May edition of the Re:Porter, the airline's in flight magazine, features a full page advertisement promoting Thunder Bay as an ideal city for meetings and conferences. Our evolving MC and IT strategy weaves our reputation as one of Canada's Best Outdoor Cities into our urban capacity for hosting unique corporate events and offering pre and post conference experiences as diverse as skiing, fly in angling retreats, biking, hiking or just exploring. Conference planners looking for something different seem to welcome the departure from the concrete jungles of large city convention halls.

For more information on planning your "Unconventional Convention, visit our site.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Multiplex Citizen and Industry Input Sessions Coming Up.

The City of Thunder Bay will be looking for citizens’ views, comments and suggestions on preliminary facility configuration and site options for a proposed Multipurpose Event Centre (Multiplex).

"We want to hear from the public as the planning phase moves into its next stage," said Mayor Keith Hobbs. "We will be narrowing down site locations and business models for more detailed study." The Multiplex is proposed in the City’s Renew Thunder Bay Plan as a high priority, major legacy project over the next five years. The next set of Open Houses will allow the public to provide their input on where the facility should be located and how they would like to see it operated.

"This facility could be a major economic development catalyst for the City, but it must also be affordable to taxpayers and have a strategic location that maximizes opportunity to draw events, users and visitors at a regional, national and international level," said City Manager Tim Commisso.

There will be two Open Houses held, with presentations at 7 pm followed by a question and answer forum and feedback opportunities:

Wednesday, June 1
6:30 – 9 pm
DaVinci Centre, Marco Polo Room, 340 Waterloo St. S

Thursday, June 2
6:30 – 9 pm
Italian Cultural Centre, Main Hall, 132 Algoma St. S

For more information or questions, contact Stacey Levanen @ 625-3650.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thunder Bay Makes Tripadvisor's Top 25 Canadian Destinations List

Thunder Bay continues to improve its brand position as Canada's Best Outdoor City and a increasingly desirable destination or gateway for visitors seeking some of North America's best outdoor experiences, sport tourism or conference experience.

TripAdvisor, the hugely popular online consumer travel portal, has recently announced Canada's top twenty five city destinations based on traveller reviews and Thunder Bay has made that list with a number twenty four ranking.

This is the first time we've made the list and is testament to the City's transformation in recent years to a culturally rich and eclectic urban centre with intimate connections to its natural environment. Looking at the City's spectacular waterfront transformation, growth in the university and college sectors, a growing reputation as a leading edge health sciences, research and mining centre, the explosion of our culinary and arts scene and major attraction investments in the National Marine Conservation Area, Provincial Parks and attractions, its easy to see the momentum that is propelling our industry and reputation upwards. The leadership and investments being shown in various economic sectors highlights the importance of an interconnected economy and how they can contribute to a stronger tourism sector.

Certainly, our goal is to continually improve on our position and rankings in this and other consumer measurement channels by building equity on the Canada's Best Outdoor City vision statement. We'll achieve this through a stable long term approach that focuses on our key asset strengths yet demonstrates flexibility to adapt to shifts in the consumer market segments.

March Hotel Occupancy Continued its Occupancy Rate Rise.

March 2011 continued to be a strong month for Thunder Bay's accommodation sector with occupancy levels among the highest in Canada. Healthy increases are reported over March 2010, which in itself was stronger over the previous year. Lets face it. 2009 was a year most of the global tourism industry wants to forget anyway.

Hotel occupancy rose to 72%, up 2.7 points from 69.3 in March 2010. Average daily rate, however dipped to $92.32 from $96.54, signaling price competition among various properties to attract guests. This price competition translated into a slight dip in revenue per available room by 0.6% to $66.43 from $66.86 a year ago.
Overall, Thunder Bay's hotel performance continued to outshine the nation average of 57.6% and our growth rate outpaced the 1.6% national average. Revenue per available room locally, however, remains lower than the national average of $70.82.

A strong March is likely due to strong mining and health sciences related domestic corporate travel to the city, and reasonably strong sport tourism attendance for the annual Sibley Ski tour. While spring break brought some regional domestic leisure traffic into the city, the strong Canadian dollar has translated into many heading into Minnesota.

We report hotel performance based on data supplied by PKF Consulting. For our tourism partners seeking more detailed data, they can contact PKF directly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


In Celebration of National Tourism Week – June 6 – 12th, 2011, Tourism Thunder Bay is giving away an incredible Blues Festival getaway for two in Thunder Bay.

The Thunder Bay Blues Festival is one of the largest and most anticipated events of the summer.
Blues fans gather on the shores of Lake Superior to enjoy a spectacular line-up of well known international musicians and an all-star line-up of national and local talent.
Now in its 10th year – this event scheduled for July 8th – 10th at Marina Park - promises to delivery more of the best fans have come to expect!

The Prize Package coordinated by Lake Superior Visits includes Round-trip airfare for Two people to Thunder Bay; 4 day Car Rental with National Car & Truck Rental; 3 nights accommodations at McVicar Manor B&B; two weekend VIP passes to the 10th Annual Thunder Bay Blues Festival; gift certificates for the world-famous Hoito Restaurant, the Prospector Steak House and Lot66 Restro Lounge & Wine Bar; a Thunder Bay harbour tour by SailSuperior.com with great views of the Sleeping Giant and the Blues Festival; Unique Personal Transportation to and from the Festival and/or bike rentals courtesy of Superior Pedicabs and all applicable taxes.

“This campaign encourages locals to become ambassadors and invite their friends and family to visit Thunder Bay this summer with a fun contest theme that showcases just how much there is to see and do in our great city.” According to Tourism Manager Paul Pepe.

Out-of-town friends and family can enter the contest at www.VisitThunderBay.com
The contest opens at 12 noon May 17, 2011 & closes at 12 midnight June 20th. More information about the 10th Annual Thunder Bay Blues Festival can be found at www.tbayblues.ca