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First Time Assessment of Tourism Trends and Statistics Released for the Binational Great Lakes Region

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Shedding light on the barriers and opportunities to grow the tourism sector across the Region

At the Great Lakes Economic Forum today the Council of the Great Lakes Region (the “Council”), in partnership with Deloitte LLP, release a report that looks at tourism trends and statistics in the cross-border Great Lakes region, which spans eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, and opportunities for growing the tourism sector.

Global tourism has seen unprecedented and virtually uninterrupted growth since the 1950’s. In fact today, travel and tourism is the world’s largest service industry, contributing trillions to world GDP. Competition for travelers and tourism dollars, as a result, is fierce!

Against this backdrop, North America is the fastest growing geographical region in the tourism industry, thanks in large part to the high-quality destinations and visitor experiences offered by the United States and Canada.

A key finding from the Council’s study, however, is that while the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region represents a significant market for tourism and punches above its weight in visitors and jobs, it only drives 15% of tourism related revenues and 19% of tourism related GDP in North America.

Therefore, by encouraging greater collaboration within the sector and across the border through the Council of the Great Lakes Region, there’s an opportunity to develop a Regional travel and tourism vision and strategy in order set the stage for sizeable and sustainable growth in this sector in the years ahead.


“The travel and tourism is the world’s largest service industry and a sector that continues to see unprecedented growth,” said Mark Fisher, CEO of the Council. “The Great Lakes region has everything its needs to be one of the world’s premier tourism destinations, but we’ve lacked sufficient information about the industry and a strategy to grow it.”

Quick Facts

  • New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ontario and Quebec form one of the largest economic regions in the world.
  • Home to 107 million Americans and Canadians, if the region was a country, it would be the 12th largest nation by population in the world.
  • With economic output estimated at USD$5.8 trillion in 2015, the region accounts for roughly a third of combined Canadian and U.S. economic activity and employment.
  • With 22% of North America’s population, the Region drives:

    −56% of North American Tourists
    −15% of North American tourism-related activity
    −29% of North American tourism employment
    −19% of North American tourism-related GDP

  • Domestic tourists account for 84% of all tourists to the Region.
  • Day trip tourists account for 75% of all tourists to the Region.
  • The Regional hotel occupancy rate was 63.3%, up 1% from 2014-15.
  • The Regional average daily room rate was USD$114.70, a 1% increase over 2014-15.
View the report