Yes, the Victoria Day long weekend is upon us again—marking the unofficial start of summer and, of course, the launch of yet another tourist season here in Rainy River District.
Despite persistent reports of a prospective buyer continuing to kick the tires so to speak, the mill in Fort Frances remains shuttered, making the economic stimulus the tourist industry injects into our area all the more important.
And in fact, the Canadian Border Services Agency is expecting bridge crossings to be up here this summer thanks to a strong American dollar vis-a-vis the loonie.
As the major “gateway” to Northwestern Ontario for U.S. visitors, the role Fort Frances plays in welcoming the annual influx of tourists is crucial. For those new visitors especially, we are the front-line for “first impressions”—where a friendly smile or helpful attitude could well make the difference in whether they choose to return year after year.
It’s also important to remember that even if tourists are just passing through, Fort Frances still benefits from a healthy tourism industry through jobs and spin-off spending by area camps that often winds up in local coffers eventually.
Even so, no stone must go unturned in looking at ways to make Fort Frances a “destination” or, at the very least, a reason to get visitors to stop here on their way by.
It’s certainly not a new issue but tapping that potential boon still seems so elusive after all these years.