Friday, June 17, 2011

Cold April Influences U.S. Traffic Results

The Spring spike in fuel prices and miserably cold weather (remember multiple snow falls and record hail in April prior to this year?) are being reflected in the early spring performance of our U.S. source markets. U.S. visitor traffic through the Pigeon River crossing declined 17% in April over the same month a year previous.

In April 2011, 1 792 US residents crossed into Canada south of Thunder Bay versus 2 163 a year previous. Same day traffic dropped most significantly to 643 this year compared to 924 in 2010. Single night stays rose to 172 from 151 and multiple night stays decreased to 977 from 1088 a year ago.

We're certainly hoping this isn't a trend we'll see continue. In 2010 we noticed a increase in U.S. touring traffic through Thunder Bay accommodation providers from mid spring to fall, signalling a shift in travel segments. Motorcycle and auto touring gained in popularity while the hunting and angling markets remained soft throughout the region. A continuing soft U.S. economy, $4 a gallon fuel and a horribly cold and snowy spring combine to influence early spring travel.

Based on last year's patterns and strong consumer response to our media channels, we continued to invest in US Midwest touring marketing such as AAA Living and Home and Away to build awareness in touring. To counter the current economic environment in attracting U.S. visitors, it is imperative that we focus on the calibre of the touring route around Lake Superior as an epic iconic "must see" experience that targets the avid educated and affluent traveller.

With a 330 million person source market beginning only 45 minutes drive from the city and indicators like the increase in motorcycle sales this year, we need to explore opportunities to shift strategy and seek new U.S. markets utilizing travel motivation and economic consumer trend data.

Artists and Vendors Wanted for Waterfront District Street Fair

Plans are underway for the Ontario Provincial Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.®) Rally to be held in Thunder Bay July 28, 29, 30, 2011. This event invites H.O.G.® members from across Ontario, Canada, the United States and Globally to participate in a fun-filled weekend focused on riding and ridership.

It is anticipated that 600 participants will register and attend the event.

The Waterfront District BIA is planning to host a free summer event called the Waterfront District Street Fair on Friday, July 29, 2011 in conjunction with the H.O.G. Rally. This free street event will take place on Red River Road between Cumberland Street and Court Street and will host a display of antique cars (pending) for all visitors to our event to enjoy as well as artists, vendors, crafts, inflatable bouncers and other activities for children. The Waterfront District Street Fair will take place 10:00am – 6:00 pm in conjunction with the other activities taking place that day, including a show and shine plus live music one street over at the Casino.

If you are interested in renting 10x10 booth space as a participating Vendor or Artist where participants (and local residents) can shop, they invite you to participate in this event. A BIA member participating in this event will receive their space at no cost; however, will be charged a $25 tent rental fee if one is required. A non- BIA member is required to pay the cost of the space rental ($50) as well as the tent rental ($50), if required. Attached is a vendor registration form. Please complete this form and return it to the address provided. Spaces are limited and will be assigned on a first come first serve basis. Full payment must accompany your application (cheques made payable to: The Waterfront District BIA).

If you require more information, please contact Natalie O’Doherty, BIA Coordinator, at or 807-343-9032.

Applications are first-come first-served and the final deadline is June 30th, 2011 Space is limited.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thunder Bay April Hotel Occupancy Remains Strong

Thunder Bay's April hotel performance continues to demonstrate growth with one of Canada's highest occupancy rates for the month.

April occupancy grew 4.8 points to 73% from 68.2% in April 2010 while RevPar increased 3.7 points to $67.68 from $65.28 a year ago. Average daily rate dropped however, from $95.74 to $92.71, signalling continued price competition within the marketplace that's ultimately benefiting the consumer. The Canadian average occupancy rate was 56.9%, up only .6 points from April 2010's 56.3%. Only the red hot Regina market and Yukon outperformed Thunder Bay on the occupancy level.

A continued strong meeting and convention segment, including the Northwestern Ontario Mines and Minerals Symposium, drove the April economy followed by a series of modest sport tourism events that, combined, contributed significantly to the city's overall occupancy performance. Thunder Bay's reputation provincially for hosting unique quality sport and corporate events combined with our significant air corridor coverage continues to be our strength in growing these important tourism segments.

Tourism Thunder Bay reports local accommodation performance from data provided by PKF Consulting. Tourism partners seeking greater detail of information should contact PKF directly

Tourism Thunder Bay Welcomes European Cruise Executives.

This past weekend Tourism Thunder Bay had the privilege to host five European cruise and group tour executives in the City as part of a Great Lakes industry familiarization tour coordinated by the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition.

The Coalition, of which Thunder Bay is a member, represents over twenty Canadian and U.S. ports, cities, vessel managers and tourism organizations. This bi-national group is successful in leveraging resources to attract the global cruise shipping industry to consider the great Lakes for future itinerary development.

Representatives from German, French and British operators were accompanied by Stephen Burnett, our great friend and GLCC Executive Director as part of a ten day tour. Chartering a Amphibious Caravan from Watson's Skyways, they were able to land on the water at Red Rock (another GLCC Member) before continuing on to Thunder Bay for an overnight stay and tour.

While here, we escorted them around in style to showcase the calibre of shore services and transportation we're capable of providing as a community. We utilized Prestige Limousine's limo bus and driver Rob for the two days, providing the perfect platform to showcase the best our community has to offer them.

After settling into their hotel, they were taken up to Hillcrest Park, the Pool 6 Cruise Terminal and the new Prince Arthur's Landing development. From there it was onto Gargoyles for an epic dinner reception with some of Tourism Thunder Bay's partners in cruise shipping attraction. Doug Morrill, Gargoyle's owner and chef out did himself with a custom menu featuring all locally sourced ingredients including bison, pickerel, fresh greens and more. This was backed by some exceptional service from Gargoyle's team.

Following a great rest and breakfast at the Valhalla, our guests toured Fort William Historical Park, Kakabeka Falls, and finishing off at Whitewater Golf Club with a course tour and lunch. From there it was off to Wasaya where a chartered Pilatus whisked them onto Duluth to continue their fact finding journey.

Later this year, we'll welcome the C Columbus for two visits. While we have no commercial cruise vessels yet confirmed for 2012, we continue to work regionally in attracting vessel operators for the year and subsequent cruising seasons.

A big thanks goes out to all of Tourism Thunder Bay's partners involved in the familiarization tour. This familiarization tour was also made possible through funding provided through the Regional Tourism Organization and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture. We continue to work with local and global industry partners in growing the cruise segment that enhances Thunder Bay's reputation as a port community.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Get Ready For the Motorcycle Market!

Thunder Bay sits comfortably on the shore of the world's largest freshwater lake and along one of North America's iconic coastal touring routes. Growing our tourism economy depends on doing more to promote this route through a regional approach.

Motorcycle touring, in particular, is a growing trend being noted by everyone from border staff to hotels, attractions and visitor centers. U.S. motorcycle sales up 7.2% in the first quarter of 2011 with some 102 000 motorcycles sold in the US during the first three months of this year. Leading the growth is the scooter (49%), dual sport (24.3%) and road bike segments (6.9%). more people are getting out riding and more boomers are hitting the road.

We, like many others around the lake, want to position the Lake Superior coastal touring area as one of the world's best motorcycle touring routes and that means offering more than just good roads and scenic vistas. It means a completely motorcycle friendly tourism industry ready and willing to welcome and serve the needs of motorcyclists. One need only to be an avid follower of Lake Superior magazine to understand what a stunning part of the world this is.

As part of our commitment to industry education, we've teamed up with Algoma Kinnewabi Travel Association, RTO13 and Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture to bring a motorcycle touring readiness workshop to Thunder Bay June 21st. The session takes place at the Victoria Inn, coincidentaly the host hotel for this summer's Ontario H.O.G. Rally.

We've contracted Chris Hughes of BC Hughes Consulting, one of the Province's best known experts in experiential tourism, an avid enthusiast of all things 2-wheeled and is the follow responsible for Bruce County Tourism's spectacular presence on the Ontario tourism scene prior to setting out to share his knowledge with others.

This workshop is open to any tourism establishment interested in becoming more welcoming to the motorcycle touring segment and committed to enhancing the visitor experience along one of the continent's best scenic drive routes.

If you're interested in attended the Thunder Bay session, check out the online invitation here or email to register.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tourism Thunder Bay Celebrates Tourism Week

Tourism Thunder Bay is celebrating Tourism Week in Ontario with a number of initiatives developed to encourage local residents to rediscover the great attractions and events around the city this summer.

On Tuesday June 7th, Tourism Thunder Bay, in collaboration with the Prince Arthur Hotel, is hosting a day long city familiarization tour for front line tourism professionals in the city, attracting visitor center, hotel, restaurant and retail front line staff from across the city. The tour features stops at major attractions around the city and provides tourism industry professionals with information that improves their ability to be a tourism ambassador for the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city each year.

Guide services are provided by Lake Superior Visits and the on board lunch supported by the Prince Arthur Hotel. The tour will be departing from the Terry Fox Visitor Centre at 8:30 AM on Tuesday June 7th.

“The annual tourism tour is a popular and educational event that trains our city’s tourism professionals about the great attractions and events around the community. Our goal is to develop a well-educated tourism workforce that can provide visitors with the information that encourages them to see more and stay longer.” according to Tourism Division Manager, Paul Pepe.

On Friday June 10th, the Terry Fox Visitor Centre will be celebrating Tourism Week with persians and coffee. Visitors and residents are encouraged to stop by between 10 AM and 3 PM to meet with visitor services specialists, pick up a copy of the City’s visitor experience magazine and learn more about the city’s wide range of experiences.

The June 13th edition MyTBay features information on the city’s events and attractions. With almost one quarter of visitors to the city coming to visit friends and family, local residents play an important role as tourism ambassadors. Understanding the city’s many cultural and culinary attractions and events helps residents entertain their guests and helps grow our tourism economy at the same time.

For more information on Thunder Bay’s summer attractions and events, visit