Published on : Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Most of the visitors arrived from all over Canada and the United States. Officials say what’s surprising is the town has seen a spike in tourists coming from various countries in Asia.
“They love what Canada has to offer. And 2018 will be a big year for Canada and China relations in terms of tourism and we’re going to be ready for that,” said Anne Rota, town of Amherstburg manager of tourism and culture.
The town saw a 38 per cent increase in visitors from outside the region compared to last year. The popular Canuck It Up weekend drove much of the attention which also equalled big bucks for the town. Rota says that event brought in almost $800,000 from non-local spending alone.
“That’s not even the people in Amherstburg spending the money. We saw people from Toronto, Asia, north of Toronto, Kentucky, people are coming from all over,” explained Rota.
Officials say local businesses saw a revenue increase between 20-25 per cent which generated more jobs in the local hospitality industry.
The town of Amherstburg invested $65,000 into its tourism department events portfolio. Rota says the town generated more than $1.5 million in return on investments.
But some are critical of the town’s event hosting methods. Some business owners along Dalhousie Street say they didn’t see a substantial increase in business but rather they feel the way certain summer events were handled may have turned potential costumers away.
“They have to talk to the different businesses to see what works for them,” said Shirley Wigle who owns and operates Our Place Ladies Fashions on Dalhousie Street.
“Where they say it generated so much business money-wise, I just don’t see it,” said Wigle explaining she didn’t see the influx of tourism that the town has described.
Wigle says her issue was with events that required the streets to be shut down. The shop owners said even her regular customers didn’t have access to her clothing store.
“We had nothing. Even our normal customers couldn’t get through because they couldn’t come down without paying money to come in,” said Lori Farmer who co-owns Our Place Ladies Fashions, referring to the Mardi Gras festival that was held earlier this year.
David Languedoc, owner of the Dalhousie Bistro, experienced something different. During the Canuck It Up event, the bistro saw sales up 50 per cent higher than the best day they have ever had to that point.
“I certainly noticed an increase right through from May straight through until the end of September,” said Languedoc.
David Languedoc, owner of the Dalhousie Bistro saw sales up by 50 per cent higher than the best day they have ever had to that point during Canuck It Up.
He admits things have slowed down now but feels with the restoration of historic buildings like the Bellevue House things could pick up.
“Bellevue is an absolutely fabulous property and once it’s fully developed it’s going to bring a lot of people to town.”
The town’s tourism department is working on an event to take place the same weekend as the Canuck It Up event did this year.
Officials said they’re planning a big celebration that they hope will also bring out crowds.
“It really is a testament to where Amherstburg is going on the map with projects like the Bellevue House and this past summer with the big rubber duck,” said Rota.
The town plans to keep the momentum going. They are planning another large festival similar to Canuck It Up for a weekend during the summer of 2018.