Summer-like temperatures have arrived in Ontario, bringing an added boost to local tourism.
Christopher Bloore, the president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, told CTV News that after two years of restrictions, they are anticipating a strong summer season.
“Businesses are starting to see a big pick up in tourists and customers coming into their businesses, so we’re really encouraged about what’s happening,” he said via Skype.
But, Bloore said there are new travel obstacles such as the cost of gas and living that could impact tourism.
I have noted that the rising gasoline prices could determine Americans and Canadians from embarking on road trips in Ontario.
“It’s a huge part of our industry, and we have seen some concerning poll numbers about reconsidering plans to do road trips in Ontario because of the cost of fuel.”
He encourages Ontario travelers to look at incentives that could help offset fuel prices.
Bloore said one of the ways to both struggling help tourism operators and vacationers is the Staycation Tax Credit.
For example, if a family spends more than $2,000 on a vacation in Ontario, it can receive up to $400, according to Bloore.
“Obviously, that money is designed to go towards your accommodation costs, but if you get $400 to accommodation costs, you can spend that money to go to another attraction.”
He noted that he expects four to six per cent of tourism operators were forced to close due to the pandemic.
Bloore thanked the provincial and federal governments for stepping in to help mitigate the damage but credited businesses for their innovation and the support from Ontarians.
“We saw a domestic travel boom during the pandemic with people rediscovering their province.”
Now, the industry faces another challenge, and that’s staffing.
Bloore said the industry needs a tourism workforce strategy in Ontario as operators are struggling to find employees.
“In some cases, it means some businesses can’t even open for five or six days a week because they simply don’t have the staff to do so.”