Tourism Grows As Memorial Cup Arrives

Gordon Orr of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (centre) presents the agency's 2016 report to Essex County Council in Essex on May 17, 2017 (Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News)

With the long-awaited Mastercard Memorial Cup tournament finally upon Windsor-Essex, the area’s tourism industry appears to be vibrant.

Representatives from Tourism Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island presented their annual report card for 2016 to Essex County Council Wednesday night, as part of an awareness campaign promoting initiatives to support and encourage tourism growth in the region.

CEO Gordon Orr believes that the key to a strong local tourism industry is giving people multiple options when they visit, and this is reflected in one of the campaigns described before the council.

“Our Plenty of Reasons campaign continues, recognizing that we are blessed with numerous tourism assets with no one iconic attraction,” says Orr. “We decided to highlight plenty of reasons to visit and why you’ll love this place.”

In addition to the thousands of hockey fans and media from all over North America descending on Windsor-Essex for the Memorial Cup, which begins Friday, visitors to the area will have plenty of reasons to visit this summer as both Canada and the province of Ontario celebrate their 150th birthdays, and the city of Windsor turns 125 this year. Historic attractions like Fort Malden in Amherstburg, and natural gems such as Point Pelee National Park have drawn visitors from all over.

Americans remain a big percentage of those visiting the area, and more of them crossed the border to experience Windsor-Essex from 2015 into 2016, according to Lynnette Bain, TWEPI vice-president of tourism programs and development.

“More Americans came by car, a 4% increase, and more people flew into YQG (Windsor Airport), a 40% growth,” says Bain. “Our hotels are also very encouraging and seeing some positive growth.”

Orr elaborates on the hotel figures.

“For the first quarter of 2017, 2016 over 2017, you can see a growth of 1.5% in our hotel occupancy and close to a $5 increase in our average daily room rate,” says Orr.

The presentation coincided with the announcement of June being Tourism Month in the region. With the Memorial Cup expected to be a healthy warmup, June will feature events such as the popular Art in the Park at Willistead Manor, Windsor Ribfest at Festival Plaza, the LaSalle Strawberry Festival, and Summerfest.