Barrie area won’t be hit as hard by tourism issues, official says

“We saw a lot of people here even when gas prices were skyrocketing,” says Tourism Barrie executive director

While a recent report says Ontario’s tourism industry is not expected to fully recover from the pandemic until 2025, Tourism Barrie officials say they are doing great, thank you.

The recently released joint report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) indicates that tourism businesses in the province generate 64% of the revenue they collected in 2019. It also indicates that seven out of 10 companies in the tourism sector said they had taken on debt to stay afloat.

Kathleen Trainor, executive director of Tourism Barrie, said while major markets were going through tough times, she called Barrie and the surrounding area “a drive-in city.”

“We’re a three-season town because we have things to do year-round, whether it’s boating, fishing, and nearby beaches or skiing,” Trainor said. BarrieToday, the addition of spring tends to be the only slower time in the calendar.

“The other thing we have going for us is to be economical for people, in the sense that if they can’t fly to Whistler, they can usually afford to come to Barrie, get a hotel room and going to the slopes or water attractions,” she said. added.

Snow Valley Ski Resort general manager John Ball said BarrieToday that being open only 100 days a year is not so bad for them.

“Our season ends at the end of March and we only become a tourist destination again generally the first week of December. We actually open this Friday,” Ball said.

“We don’t have the summer crowds, but I can say that starting last winter, in the last five to six weeks of our season, the COVID restrictions were starting to loosen up and we were lucky to operate as an outdoor business,” he added.

Although he started a week later than he had hoped due to the weather, Ball said they are anticipating a busy season in Snow Valley, which is located just outside Barrie on Vespra Valley. Road.

“We will stay open as long as there is snow on the hill and people are enjoying it,” Ball said.

Meanwhile, Trainor said hotels in Barrie are busy most weekends, even if that means people are doing stuff in surrounding municipalities.

“Not just fun attractions, but even with business events in other cities and towns, we’ll be asking people to get a hotel here so they can go wherever they want for a conference, come back and use the many things that we have on the go, she said.

According to Trainor, high gas prices also helped Barrie, as people wanted to get away from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but not too far north either.

“We saw a lot of people here even when gas prices were skyrocketing. People always wanted to be able to get away, but getting from Toronto to Algonquin Park cost an arm and a leg,” Trainor said.

The recent report also talked about ways to help improve Ontario’s tourism industry with suggestions such as tax incentives and affordable housing to support staff recruitment. He also mentioned cannabis tourism, much like the Niagara region does with wine.

“Cannabis tourism can definitely grow, but I don’t know if it’s here yet,” Trainor said. “The question becomes: Does Barrie want to be known for this? Then it becomes a municipal and branded thing. It will vary from destination to destination.

The report says the province could encourage cannabis-related tourism to help the recovery, through regulatory changes around special event permits and consumer lounges.

Trainor said some sectors of the overall tourism industry are doing better than others.

“Not all sectors of the tourism industry are in recovery yet. What is lagging to come back are the meetings and conferences sectors,” she said. “Hotels and resorts are back to normal, if not up since 2019. Airbnb is up 200% from 2019.”

Comments are closed.