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It’s hard to believe another tourist season is upon us but the walleye opener Saturday marks the start of the annual influx of visitors flooding into Northwestern Ontario—a great majority of whom enter Canada right here in Fort Frances.

As such, it’s our job to be the welcoming committee, which is a very important responsibility especially for those who are coming to this area for the first time. As we all know, first impressions are what count most—and could well spell the difference between who comes back and who vacations elsewhere in future.

Fort Frances has worked in recent years to come up with ways to welcome tourists, and encourage them to stop here before they carry on to their final destination. It shouldn’t be a tough job. There’s the museum, and its three sites at Pither’s Point. Our beautiful waterfront. And we’re a perfect jumping off point for a scenic boat trip on the Historic Boundary Waterway.

Best of all, we’re sitting on the shore of Rainy Lake, which Al Lindner of In-Fisherman fame has tagged as the best bass fishing lake in North America. That’s right, North America. Right on our doorstep!

Frankly, with all we have to offer, why would anyone want to go elsewhere?

Still, we can—and must—do more. On the plus side, a committee, with the support of the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, the local Business Improvement Area, and the Rainy River Future Development Corp., is working on getting a mural done on a wall of the Abitibi-Consolidated mill.

The plan is for it to be just the first of many, with the hope of giving people one more reason to stop here.

But attractions are only half the battle. Making people want to stop here—and come back again—hinges on how well they’re treated. And that means offering warm hospitality and great customer service to our visitors.

It’s something we all have to take an active role in if we want to turn Fort Frances from a gateway to a destination.

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