It’s that time of year again when the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce comes with hat in hand before town council to request funding to help with tourism-related expenses—just as it’s done for the past 20 years or more.
Council has acquiesced, though at times seeming to do so grudgingly. Last year, for instance, the Chamber asked that the amount be upped to $9,500 from the $7,500 it had been receiving for years, with council eventually agreeing to split the difference and provide $8,500.
That’s the same amount the Chamber is seeking again this year.
Yes, council needs to ensure any money it allocates is spent wisely on what it’s been earmarked for. It’s just too bad the Chamber has to come across as grovelling for the money at budget time when surely any and all efforts to attract and aid visitors to Fort Frances specifically, and our region in general, should be met with grateful support.
The Chamber often is the first place potential visitors call for information about the various services and attractions our town has to offer—and that number of enquiries by telephone, online, and walk-in traffic has been growing over the years, as past president Jenny Greenhalgh wrote in a letter council received at its regular meeting Monday night.
And with the loonie remaining low in value compared to the American dollar, it’s very likely this year will see continued growth in these so-called “tourism contacts.”
As well, with the North Western Ontario Tourism Association announcing just last month that it’s disbanding (at least for the time being), the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce could well ended up filling that void.
The tourism industry still plays a vital role to the economic prosperity of this area, with Fort Frances reaping both direct and in-direct benefits. As such, the Chamber’s annual plea for help from the town, which works out to just over $700 a month, is well worth the relatively small cost if it means bringing in even more visitors.