Tourism, like any other industry, is cyclical, which may explain the drop in the number of American vehicles crossing into Northwestern Ontario here at Fort Frances so far this summer.
Similarly, tourism can be affected by things outside our control—such as a general economic slowdown that’s hit south of the border, not to mention high gas prices and another invasion of those unsightly army worms back in May and June.
Then there’s all those new regulations—from fishing to gun registration—which may have turned Americans off. A cool, wet spring, courtesy of Mother Nature, certainly didn’t help matters, either.
Nevertheless, while the drop may be sparked by outside influences, and isn’t sufficient—at least yet—to warrant widespread alarm or panic, it’s still a telling reminder that we cannot be complacent when it comes to tourism.
A good season doesn’t necessarily translate into one the following year, nor provide a convenient excuse to cut back on promoting this beautiful area. That’s a year-round job, long after our visitors have headed back home, and one worth the price tag involved.
Clearly, a concerted effort is needed to keep marketing Northwestern Ontario as a premiere tourism destination (for people from both sides of the border and overseas), including one that goes beyond catering to the traditional fishing and hunting clientele through new and imaginative attractions.
That also means looking at ways to draw people here during the winter months.
True, we here in “God’s country” can’t control many factors that impact on tourism. But those we can—like marketing, building new attractions to visit, and offering quality accommodations, courteous service, and friendly hospitality—must never be pushed to the backburner, nor underestimated.
Tourism is vital to the economy of Northwestern Ontario, and we all have to work aggressively to keep the welcome mat shiny. It really does rest in our hands.