Tourism Flourishes in Thunder Bay: A Look at Recent Trends and Future Prospects

The Pagoda
Tourism in Thunder Bay has continued to grow.

Thunder Bay – NEWS – In 2023, Thunder Bay has emerged as a bustling hub for tourism. The city’s unique blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and modern amenities have attracted visitors from all over the world. The tourism sector’s remarkable recovery and growth, particularly in the accommodation sector, has been a highlight in the city’s post-pandemic era. That is the message from Tourism Manager Paul Pepe, who has been a part of several of the significant changes in the sector.

The Surge in Accommodation Performance

Tourism Manager Paul Pepe recently shed light on the impressive performance of Thunder Bay’s accommodation sector. He noted that during the past summer and fall, the city saw high occupancy levels in its accommodation facilities, with summer occupancy rates reaching the high 80 percents.

This surge was accompanied by significant increases in both the average daily rate and revenue per room, indicating a robust recovery from the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Statistics Reflecting Growth

Pepe highlighted some key figures that underscore this growth. “The average daily rate for accommodations rose to $196.13, an 8.5% increase, while the revenue per available room climbed to $162.97, up by 5.5%,” states Pepe.

Despite a slight dip of 2.3% in September’s occupancy rate compared to September 2022, this was offset by a 2.4% increase in new room inventory, particularly with the official opening of the Superior Shores Hotel in the downtown Waterfront District.

This adjustment brings the performance on par with previous years, showcasing a resilient and growing sector.

Financial Implications and Reinvestment

The thriving tourism sector has led to record-breaking municipal accommodation tax remittances. The third quarter (Q3) of the year marked a 26% increase over Q3 2022 and a significant 35% jump from Q3 2019.

These substantial earnings are earmarked for reinvestment in various sectors, notably in sport, corporate, and cultural events, as well as in destination development projects. This reinvestment strategy not only enhances Thunder Bay’s appeal as a tourist destination but also bolsters the local economy.

The Viking Polaris Leaving Thunder Bay marking the end of the 2023 Cruising Season
The Viking Polaris Leaving Thunder Bay marking the end of the 2023 Cruising Season

Opportunities and Future Prospects

Thunder Bay’s tourism sector, particularly in accommodation, has largely recovered from the pandemic, though challenges like inflation and labor shortages persist. However, the sector’s current trajectory indicates a promising future.

Pepe emphasized the availability of financial incentives through the Tourism Development Fund, powered by the municipal accommodation tax, for those interested in bringing tourism development projects or sporting and corporate events to Thunder Bay. This initiative represents a significant opportunity for stakeholders to contribute to and benefit from Thunder Bay’s thriving tourism industry.


Thunder Bay’s tourism sector stands as a testament to the city’s resilience and appeal. The impressive performance of the accommodation sector, combined with strategic reinvestment in various projects and events, positions Thunder Bay as a vibrant and evolving destination. For tourists seeking a mix of natural splendour and cultural richness, and for investors and event organizers looking for a supportive and growing market, Thunder Bay offers a plethora of opportunities and experiences.

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