Tourism in Thunder Bay this year has gone up by six to eight per cent.

That's according to Thunder Bay tourism manager Paul Pepe, who gave a presentation on this year's visitor numbers at the Italian Cultural Centre on Thursday. Pepe said the good year was helped by the number of U.S. visitors, which is up for the first time in 14 years. He credits that increase to Canada's low dollar.

"We're seeing an economic growth to the industry this year, which is ultimately the most important factor," he said. "We're still analyzing some of the data from the late summer and the fall. Number of visitors is one thing but it is the amount of money each visitor spends, which is almost more important. Once those dollars are spent here, they circulate through the community."

One of the main goals of Tourism Thunder Bay isn't just to bring more people into the city but also to have them stay longer. Pepe said the longer someone stays the more they spend.

Pepe explained that everyone has a role to be a good tourism ambassador given the role social media plays now. He argued that a city's reputation is now all available online for people to find out.

He said the city primarily brings in leisure visitors during the summer months and gave the example of those who tour around Lake Superior's shore. There's also those who come up to the North for skiing and other winter activities but Pepe mentioned that's a smaller market. He also called Thunder Bay the gateway to other destinations like provincial and national parks.

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