As Stage 2 of re-opening Ontario grants many of Kingston’s businesses and restaurants to open before some other regions of the province, tourism is expected to pick up momentum again, according to those in Kingston’s economic, accommodation and tourism sectors.
Tourism is one of Kingston’s main drivers for the economy, with 8.7 per cent of the workforce made up of food service and accommodation. Local economists say that Kingston has been one of the hardest hit communities from the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.
Due to the fact that there are no current travel restrictions within Ontario and across the Ontario border within Canada, and with warmer weather fast approaching, Kingston can expect an influx of visitors from outside of Kingston, something that the tourism office says they are looking forward to, with a hint of caution.
“We are pleased to see our region move to Stage 2 of reopening, a step that will allow many of our tourism partners to begin the long road to economic recovery,” said Megan Knott, Executive Director of Tourism Kingson. “Kingston’s phenomenal reputation for hospitality will ensure both residents and visitors are welcomed by the city’s many attractions, accommodation providers, restaurants, and businesses in an enjoyable and safe way.”
Knott’s colleagues with the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Accomodation Partners, the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, and the Downtown Kingston! BIA echoed these sentiments.
“Hotels, motels, inns and B&Bs continue to welcome visitors to Kingston while implementing safety policies as recommended by KFL&A Public Health in addition to the robust cleaning methods already existing in the sector. Without the group business that the sector relies on, we are ready to welcome leisure travellers from within our region in a safe and conscientious manner,” said Krista LeClair, Executive Director of Kingston Accommodation Partners.
“With the City, Downtown BIA and Tourism Kingston leading the way to the creation of a ‘Love Kingston Marketplace’ in the downtown core, our district is poised to be a focal point for these travellers. We want to welcome them – and ensure their safety, and that of staff of downtown businesses. Safety protocols will be top of mind, for all, as we hope to welcome people to downtown and to enjoy these summer months,” said Michele Langlois, General Manager & Director of Marketing for the Downtown Kingston! BIA
As things open up again, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore said, although it will be good to get the economy going again, there must be important questions asked before any travel takes place.
“We are very supportive of everyone staying local, supporting our local economy, and enjoying everything our community has to offer,” he said. “However, we know that people will travel and that we will have an influx of visitors to our area as The Premier continues to reopen the Province.”
“My advice to travellers is to do a risk assessment. This includes asking yourself a few questions,” Moore continued.
His advice is to ask the five Ws before making a travel decision.
“You should be asking where you’re going, what the rate of COVID-19 cases are in that community, what are you going to be doing, and will it put yourself or your family at risk for any potential transmission of COVID-19,” he said.
In addition, if planning on visiting a family member, make sure they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and finally, make sure to wash hands, wear a mask and maintain a distance of two metres from other people in public.
Still, the re-opening of Kingston is being seen by those who work closely with the local economic and tourism sectors in a positive light.
“This a good news story – a positive step forward for our members that are tour operators, hoteliers, and restaurateurs,” said Karen Cross, CEO of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce.