Kingsville coming off banner year for tourism

Tall Ships Celebration, Aug 2019. (BlackburnNews.com photo by Dave Dentinger)

Kingsville’s mayor is celebrating a significant uptick in tourism last year in his town.

Nelson Santos said attendance was up at many of the usual festivals, including the Ruthven Apple Festival, the Migration Festival and the return of the Festival of Lights.

However, two new events stood out. About 7,000 people came out to the Highlands Festival during the one-day event last summer, while another 12,000 attended the Tall Ships Celebration in Kingsville’s harbour.

Santos said the two events paid off for the town.

“Over $1.3 million for that event, alone,” he explained, referring to the Tall Ships Festival last August. “Not only did visitors come to the harbour to experience the ships, but then they went into the downtown community and visited the businesses.”

This past year’s Tall Ships Celebration brought six tall ships to the Kingsville Harbour, including the HMCS Oriole, Empire Sandy, and Bluenose II.

“Tourism numbers were up significantly for this past year,” said Santos. He did not have specific numbers overall, but said, “just the addition of the tall ships and the Highland games that’s about 20,000 people that we didn’t have the year prior. Significant for a community with a 22,000 population.”

Santos made his remarks in an interview with BlackburnNews.com after the 2020 Mayor’s Breakfast at Colasanti’s in Leamington. The breakfast is often a venue for county mayors to give stakeholders a look back on the year past and a preview of goals in the year to come.

The Highland Games will be back in June of 2020, along with a new focus on sports tourism. The Ontario Federation Hockey Championships will bring Atom, PeeWee, Bantam, Midget, and Juvenile division teams to the town in April.