Local tourism sector receives financial boost during COVID-19 pandemic

(Gazette file photo)

SARAH WILLIAMS

STAFF WRITER

Though COVID-19 may appear to be in full-swing, the tourism industry shows no signs of settling down anytime soon with recently announced funding to the tune of $65,000 from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). This funding will support events occurring in Prince Edward County throughout the fall,winter and spring and ensure they meet pandemic related requirements.

Events that will benefit include:

  • Ghosts of Camp Picton:A Halloween “haunted house” drive-thru experience, happening at Loch Sloy, the WWII-era gunnery school. Enjoy from your car as lights, audio and actors bring the historic buildings to life.

  • Hallowe’en at Mustang Drive-In:Artists will transform the Drive-In for two days of triple-bill spooktacular movies.

  • ====\\DeRAIL: This inaugural public art initiative spans seven monthly walks taking place from November to May on the Consecon section of the Millennium Trail, led by storyteller Conrad Beaubien and his donkey, Thunder. It will culminate with an animated, community event experience by the Department of Illumination.

  • Firelight Lantern Festival: Lantern kits will be distributed in the community, with Zoom workshops to help create masterpieces on the theme of “Hope.” Instead of the usual parade, the lanterns will stay stationary, safely installed behind the glass of storefronts on Picton’s Main Street, as pedestrians stroll by.

  • Regent Theatre: A series of hybrid-model concerts and performances – including new work from Shatterbox Theatre and a performance from local favourite Siobhan Bodrug.

  • Slake Brewing Winterfest: Raise a cold one during one of the coldest months, with a new February beer festival at Slake Brewing, featuring local brews, eats and artisan-made treats.

  • Flashback February:Marketing support will help spread the word about this Museums-led winter season event whose focus is on the history and heritage of Prince Edward County.

  • Maple in The County: This beloved springtime event was one of the first local events impacted by COVID-related restrictions, but The County’s maple producers are already thinking about next March, envisioning stringent COVID protocols that will help bring back family-friendly agricultural fun.

  • Cross County Crackup with Comedy Country: Live-streamed comedy performances, featuring Comedy Country’s signature mix of top-flight Canadian comedy talent alongside a healthy dose of local funny folk from Taste That!

  • Storytelling Workshop with Emmanuel Jal:South Sudanese-Canadian artist, actor and activist Emmanual Jal has travelled the world telling his story as a former child soldier, using art and creativity to knit together a powerful story of survival, resilience and empowerment. Jal will lead the attendees who identify as Black, Indigenous or Persons of Colour through a one-day workshop on storytelling, followed by an open-to-all performance.

  • All Welcome Here POCnic:Spring POCnic brings together local Black, Indigenous and People of Colour food producers, farmers, artisans and artists to create an indoor and outdoor market with storytelling and art.

As stated in a recent press release from the municipality, providing funding for new and re-imagined events is part of a tourism recovery strategy that incorporates input from the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Team and was developed in consultation with the Destination Development and Marketing Working Group.

The press release also notes the tourism industry accounts for over 2,000 local jobs as per 2016 data and is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Prince Edward County economy.

The tourism recovery strategy also has these components:

  • Development of an updated Visitor Guide and visitor-focused promotional materials

  • Workshops, coaching and marketing support for experience development

  • Microgrants to support marketing of new products or experiences

  • An expanded Countylicious program

  • Showcasing and developing County culinary opportunities with the Culinary Tourism Alliance

  • Development of a strategy, packages and materials to support small group wellness retreats, corporate retreats and incentive travel

  • Finalization of a long-term strategy guiding future development of the tourism sector