Saturday, November 22, 2014

Town to run travel centre

Fort Frances will run the former Ontario Travel Information Centre here this summer.
Mayor Roy Avis said the town is in the process of inking an agreement with the province to lease the building, which was closed in the spring of 2012.

“The tourist information centre as we know it in Fort Frances will be leased by the provincial government . . . to Fort Frances for this summer,” the mayor noted after Monday night’s council meeting.
“We’ll be able to open that up as a tourist information centre and see what happens, see how it works.
“We’re not taking any real long-term lease commitment,” he stressed. “It’s only going to be a year lease.”
The town has been trying for the past two years to get the tourist information centre here re-opened, and Mayor Avis feels it is doing the right thing.
“When you look at the town and see what’s happening to us, with the mill the way it’s going, we have to do something to broaden our scope and try to make ourselves a destination for tourists,” he reasoned.
“This is one of the ways we can offer it because we can tell them what we have to offer in Fort Frances.
“Right now, people don’t even bother stopping,” the mayor noted. “The big thing is to get them to stop.
“If we get them to stop, I am sure they’re going to stop, spend some money, maybe go down and look at the Hallett, look at the beautiful waterfront we have, buy an ice cream cone, and just [see] what our community has to offer,” he remarked.
“Go to the museum—I think the museum here is probably one of the best museums for a town our size in the province.
“We do have a lot to offer and we want to make sure we can get that message out,” Mayor Avis reiterated.
The mayor said the facility will be run “similar to the way it was ran by the province,” except it will be manned by students hired by the Rainy River Future Development Corp. who, without the building, would be sitting at the border to hand out information to tourists as they have the past two summers.
Now the students won’t have to work under the hot sun or in the cold rain.
Use of the tourist information centre should prove a boon for visitors, who not only will get face-to-face interaction, have their questions answered, and get information about area attractions, but be able to use the restrooms there.
Several times in the past two years, people have reported seeing tourists cross over the border, go to the OTIC, and try to get in—not knowing it was closed.
While other organizations, such as the local Chamber of Commerce, have expressed interest in setting up inside the same building, the lease presently does not permit the subleasing of the building to entities other than the town, Mayor Avis noted.
He said the leasing of the building will be paid for through the town’s economic development fund.
The town also is getting funding from a regional tourism organization, the mayor added.
The lease agreement is expected to be approved with a bylaw at council’s next meeting May 26.

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