Northern Economist 2.0

Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Toursim and Travel in Ontario: A Target for Northern Ontario Tourism

My last post was on border crossings into northwestern Ontario at Pigeon River and Rainy River.  This type of data has always interested me because my academic career began approximately when the Canadian cross-border shopping frenzy of the late 1980s and early 1990s took place. In 1980, Canadians made 22.1 million same day auto trips to the United States and this rose to 25.2 million in 1985 and hit 53.2 million in 1990.  As the graph below shows, the peak was in 1991 at close to 59 million trips before a decline set in and today the numbers are not even half that peak at 21.5 million for 2017. These trips by Canadians to the United States were a tourism flow into the US and a function of exchange rates, income, and relative prices of goods.  

What is also interesting when examining travel flows is province level numbers for the number of tourism visits, their origin, as well as the spending amounts.  The figure below plots total visits to Ontario from1998 to 2015 based on data from Ontario’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport which in turn is based on Statistics Canada travel survey data.  Total tourism visits in Ontario in 1998 were 129,646,000 and in 2015 they were 141,902,000.  The average annual growth rate of total trips was 0.6 percent - which does not seem that high. The average annual growth rate of trips in Ontario originating from Ontario was 1.7 percent, compared to 1.1 percent from the rest of Canada, 1.6 percent for overseas trips and -5.3 percent for the United States.  Ontario has been its own best growing tourism market accounting for 71 percent of visits in 1998 and 85 percent in 2015. The biggest decline has been in American visitors which over the period fell from 23 percent to 8 percent.

When total spending by these visitors is examined in the chart below, it suggests that spending has grown faster than the number of visitors particularly for overseas visitors to Ontario.  Indeed, spending by Ontarians visiting within Ontario grew at an annual average of 3.7 percent, that by other Canadians 3.7 percent, Americans -1.2 percent and overseas visitors by 6.9 percent.  Indeed, overseas visitors have definitely been punching above their weight when it comes to their spending on tourism visits to Ontario indicating that this is definitely an area where Ontario might wish to direct its marketing activities.  Spending by overseas visitors to Ontario surpassed that of Americans in 2013 and in 2015 was 50 percent higher. 


How important is this tourism visitor spending to Ontario’s economy-approximately 2 percent of Ontario’s GDP – but is has not changed much over the period 1998 to 2015.  It has not been growing as a share of GDP given that during this period there has been a decline in American spending that has counteracted the rise in spending by overseas and Canadian travelers.  

When it comes to marketing tourism in northern Ontario, the above data suggests two main targets for our energy: the rest of Ontario and the overseas market.  For the time being, the American market appears to have sunk into decline.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Economic News Around the North: July 17th Edition

Well, a number of interesting items have come to my attention with respect to stories with an economic impact on northern Ontario.  However, it is summer and peak travel season so I think I will keep things short and a bit more eclectic than usual, but with a tourism focus.

To start off, it would appear that tourism efforts in White River, Ontario may be all for naught given the reaction of the Chinese government to Winnie the Pooh.  According to a BBC story, Winnie the Pooh is being blocked in China because images of Pooh are being used to represent China's President Xi Jinping in social commentary and criticism. 

Winnie-the-Pooh may be the world's most beloved bear but apparently the love stops in Beijing where government censors cannot "bear" the images.  White River has of course gone to great lengths to market its link to the character and everyone who has driven the highway has invariably stopped at the roadside statue of the Pooh.


No doubt, White River and its citizens will now join the list of subversive elements being monitored by the Chinese government and the Pooh Hometown Festival held the third week of August will acquire new cachet and international significance.  Mark August 18th down in your travel calendar.

In other northern news stories with some relation to tourism and the economics of tourism and travel:

Thunder Bay's Hotel Boom shows no sign of slowing. Northern Ontario Business. July 12th, 2017.

Sudbury Casino would drain economy: report. June 27th, 2017.

Thunder Bay Tops Best Places to Live in Northern Ontario. Tbnewswatch. July 6th, 2017.

Well, given Thunder Bay's recent spate of bad news, the above ranking by MoneySense qualifies as good news though the story does qualify the ranking by noting that nevertheless, Thunder Bay barely makes the top 100 ranking only 97th overall (out of 400).

Summer is also the season of festivals and events and the economic impact of these festivals is important.

Few weeks before festival financial picture is clear: Mayor. Timmins July 5th, 2017.

Temiskaming Shores first-ever craft beer festival already sold out. CBC News Sudbury. July 11th, 2017.

Sturgeon Falls festival serves up Rock 'n Ribs. July 16th, 2017.

And if you are in Thunder Bay and at Hillcrest Park on Thursday evenings, there is always the MacGillivray Pipe Band which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

And speaking of MacGillivray, what would William MacGillivray (b. 1764, d. 1825; Chief Director of the Northwest Company) who managed a commercial fur trade empire that extended A Mare usque ad Mare and after whom Fort William, the inland headquarters of the Northwest Company was named, think of this?

Have a great week!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Northern Economist Does Vegas!

Well, I have had the ultimate travel and tourism experience by spending a few days in Las Vegas – a place I can now best characterize as a Disneyland experience for adults.  The state of Nevada and the desert metropolis are relatively isolated and yet Las Vegas has established itself as a large and dynamic urban centre focused around gambling and entertainment on a grand industrial scale.  Nevada and Las Vegas offers an interesting example of how remote and isolated places can innovate and create economic opportunity – in this case with tourism.  While the region has the advantage of a warm climate and populous nearby states, it came as a surprise to learn that the land in the region is largely owned by the U.S. federal government – about 85 percent.  As well, nearby California also appears to be resented because of past historical actions with respect to land and water resources.  It would appear that regional alienation is not limited to Northern Ontario.  As well, recessions affect Las Vegas also.  There are a number large and impressive work sites where activity has ground to a halt due to lack of funds.

Las Vegas offers a unique experience.  Where else in the course of a single day can you visit massive reproductions of New York, Egypt, Paris, Rome and Venice?  At The Venetian, the shopping mall follows the path of an inland waterway with gondolas and singing gondoliers.  City planners in Thunder Bay take note.  What Thunder Bay needs are canals and gondolas at the Intercity Mall with a direct canal link to the new waterfront park (it can get double use for skating in the winter).  Too expensive you say?  No problem.  Thunder Bay is just as capable of creative accounting and sudden flash funds as Vegas.  City Council and administration can simply “forget” to budget for millions of dollars in expenditures and then dip into either the reserve fund or find some new leveraging partners.

Vegas is not just about gambling.  There is entertainment ranging from the amazing Cirque du Soleil to comedians and singers of all kinds.  Malls and shops abound.  There are also tours of the region to places like Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.  Hoover Dam was an impressive feat of engineering and full of tourists the day I went.   

And then there is the food and drink!  You know you’ve left Ontario when you see shoppers at the mall with beer and wine glass in hand walking around and chatting.  As for the food, the all you can eat buffets are astounding though you do need to pace yourself.  The high fat content of many of the buffet offerings does not always agree with your digestion and can result in what you eat in Vegas staying in Vegas.

Ah Las Vegas.  I wonder if Caesar’s Palace needs an economist?