Tuesday, August 28, 2012

U.S. Visitor Traffic to Thunder Bay on the Increase This Year

It is a pretty significant fact that we are a forty five minute drive from the U.S. border and a source market in excess of three hundred and thirty million people.  Despite conditions of the past decade, the U.S. market continues to be important to us.  However, this market has declined over the past decade in a world of security and economic issues, coupled with inconsistent marketing investments to keep our region top of mind.

In light of the slow US economy, passport requirements, border security, high fuel prices and an at par currency, you'll have to understand if we're a little giddy today in the Tourism Thunder Bay office.

The second quarter border crossing statistics came in this week and to the end of June 2012, U.S. visitors to Thunder Bay through the Pigeon River border crossing have increased by 3.5% or about 1068 persons.  While not explosive year over year growth, its slow and steady as the old tortoise versus hare fable goes, and that's what wins the race. 

While same day traffic declined, it was the important overnight visits that increased, improving hotel performance in what is already a strong urban market.  These longer stays translate into increased economic impacts for our community and region and speak to a desire for avid travellers to explore in greater depth. From an economic impact perspective, this translates to approximately $370 596 in new visitor spending and a total economic impact including the multiplier effect of about $592 953.  Overall, that's a pretty good return early on even before the critically important July and August travel data is reported.  By about late October, we'll have a good sense of the true impact of the new investments being made. 

With approximately $1.1 million in new regional tourism marketing investments being made across Northwestern Ontario in the fishing, hunting, broad outdoors, convention, sports tourism and motor touring segments, its encouraging to see some early wins.  From our early indicators, the majority of this upswing is related to touring and outdoor adventure segment campaigns specifically into the United States totalling approximately $275 000.  This included the popular "Ride Lake Superior" motorcycle program, enhanced broad outdoor campaigns targeting Minnesota and Wisconsin and wider reaching US avid outdoor media channels.  We've also been able to host far more media familiarization trips, and build new relationships with US media such as Northern Wilds, Lake Superior Magazine and AAA media channels to grow interest in the area.  Tying the natural environment to the highway corridors is critical to maximizing visitor attraction.  Most travellers are outdoor enthusiasts but very few want to really rough it.  trails and waterfalls, birding, beaches and so forth are all huge draws but visitors want a good meal and comfy bed too.  communicating the epic-ness of Lake Superior - and our hundreds of thousands of other lakes too - will be critical to growing our markets.

The majority of the Northwest's angling traffic flows through Fort Frances so we'll be watching those numbers closely as well and reporting on the broader impacts.

The regional approach to partnership building is critical to continuing to build on these early successes and together with partners like Sunset Country Travel Association, Algoma Kinnewabi Travel and our friends in Northern Minnesota, we'll continue to work together to make the visitor pie bigger for everyone by focusing on epic experiences worth the distance. 

After all, how far would you travel for the perfect outdoor vacation?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Airlane Hotel Unveils New Name and Look

The former Travelodge Hotel Airlane premieres its new name as the Airlane Hotel & Conference Centre on September 1st, 2012. Under the management of Crescent Hotels & Resorts Canada, it has completed a $1.1 million renovation. All are invited to its Open House, held on Tuesday, September 18th from 1pm-5pm.

The Airlane Hotel & Conference Centre will continue to have a strong commitment to providing guest satisfaction, operating with the same dedicated staff in which it has built its strong history and reputation. The property will continue to be managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts Canada. Open since 1964, the hotel and the hotel staff continue to live by their motto, “A guest when you enter… A friend when you leave.” The current and ongoing renovations will offer guests, some who have been with the hotel for over 35 years, an even more exceptional experience. New additions include:

• Beds and bedding in guest rooms

• Carpet in guest rooms, corridors, and lobby

• Flat screen televisions

• Refrigerators

• Lobby furniture and lighting

• Artwork and draperies throughout hotel

The Airlane Hotel & Conference Centre serves as a regional hub for Northwestern Ontario and is conveniently located at the junction of Arthur Street and Highway 61, just moments away from the Thunder Bay International Airport. There are many places to visit while staying at the Airlane Hotel & Conference Centre, including Fort William Historical Park, Kakabeka Falls, Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Magnus Theatre, OLG Casino, and the new Arthur’s Landing Waterfront.

With over 10,000 square feet of banquet space, the hotel prides itself on their cuisine and flexible catering, meeting and event services, suitable for any type of corporate or social gathering. The hotel is a leader in in-flight catering, off-site catering, and dining at the hotel restaurant, River Rock Bar and Grill, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Hotel employees have been long-time supporters of multiple organizations and local endeavors within the community, including the United Way Employee Campaign and the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital Foundation, whose cabinet includes General Manager Susan Cameron. Currently and throughout the renovation process, the hotel has placed a priority on promoting sustainability and efforts to go Green by donating mattresses, televisions, linens and furniture to Habitat for Humanity and other organizations. In honor of their Green efforts, the hotel has been nominated by Thunder Bay for the city’s prestigious Green Award.

All visitors are encouraged to enjoy a Breath of Fresh Airlane at the Airlane Hotel & Conference Centre’s Open House, Tuesday, September 18th from 1pm-5pm. This event is open to the general public and visitors will have an opportunity to explore all of the exciting new renovations.

About Crescent Hotels & Resorts Canada

Crescent Hotels & Resorts Canada, a Top 10 independent North American Management Company and division of Crescent Hotels & Resorts, owns, manages, and co-invests in hotel real estate. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, the company currently owns or operates 11 hotels in Canada within Crescent’s North American portfolio of 64 hotels and resorts, aggregating 13,000+ guest rooms. As one of the few management companies approved to operate hotels under the premier hotel brands of Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, Wyndham Worldwide, and InterContinental brands, the company’s distinguished portfolio encompasses properties in the luxury, resort, upper upscale full-service, boutique, convention, and premium select-service hotels and limited service segments. Additional information about Crescent Hotels & Resorts Canada may be found on the company’s website: www.chrco.ca.