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.