Tourism and hospitality begin to rebound in Windsor-Essex, as COVID-19 eases

·3 min read
Danielle Moldovan is the marketing and events co-ordinator at Wolfhead Distillery in Amherstburg. She said clients have come from elsewhere in Ontario, and even out of province.  (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
Danielle Moldovan is the marketing and events co-ordinator at Wolfhead Distillery in Amherstburg. She said clients have come from elsewhere in Ontario, and even out of province. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

As COVID-19 cases decrease and vaccination rates ramp up, the urge to get out of the house is growing.

And while it still isn't as easy as it once was to take a vacation or enjoy an event — key attractions such as Caesars Windsor remain closed as the province remains in Step 2 of its reopening framework — travel and dining are slowly becoming more accessible.

According to those in the local hospitality and tourism industries, the public appears to be looking to make up for lost time.

At Wolfhead Distillery and Restaurant in Amherstburg, the crowds are back. Not all of the guests are local residents, according to Danielle Moldovan, the marketing and events co-ordinator.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

Moldovan said the distillery is seeing daytrippers from Chatham, Sarnia and Toronto, and is starting to see tourists from as far away as western Canada.

"Our phone rings every three minutes so I definitely see that pent up demand, folks wanting to make reservations, and being very respectful about booking in advance," she said.

"I just can't believe that people want to book three, four weeks in advance because they really want to be able to go out."

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

While travel is picking up within Ontario, the appetite to travel outside of the province and country is growing as well. At Windsor International Airport, booking a flight is starting to get easier.

The airport is seeing the gradual return of flights and passengers, said CEO Mark Galvin.

"Air Canada has added a flight, Westjet came back June 26, Sunwing has announced they're coming back in December for their seasonal service to sun destinations," he said in an interview on Monday.

"And today Porter announced the resumption of their service in September and two flights daily to Billy Bishop from YQG starting Oct. 6."

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

With cruise lines and tour operations ramping up, travel agent Sandra McLeod from Red Door Travel in Windsor said she is getting lots of inquiries. People are antsy to resume travel though there is some concern about international travel.

But COVID-19 is still running rampant in some parts of the world so booking trips, even next year, comes with some uncertainty.

"Clients read the news and they can see what's happening," she said. "So although they want to go and they are booking for next year, we just kind of book and sit and wait and hope for the best."

Staycation tax credit

There could be a perk for those who choose to travel closer to home, though not in time for this travel season.

As announced in the 2020 provincial budget, the government wants to introduce a tax credit for those who support local tourism operations.

So far, however, that credit hasn't been implemented. A spokesperson for the finance minister's office said that this summer there was uncertainly about when would be safe and appropriate to introduce it.

"Further information will be available before January 2022 when it is safe to travel from a public health perspective and when Ontarians and Ontario businesses have more time to take full advantage of the benefit for the year," spokesperson Emily Hogeveen said in an email to CBC News.

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