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Kingston, Ont. summer tourism bouncing back, but not without challenges

Even on a Tuesday afternoon, tourists are queueing up to see the Thousand Islands.

Kingston Destination Group’s general manager says the holiday weekend was a busy one.

“Probably 75 per cent of everything we had was sold out, that fireworks cruise we talked about sold out within three or four days after we announced it. Our ghost and mystery trolley on the weekend was sold out for every departure,” says Hugh MacKenzie, general manager of Kingston Destination Group.

It was a similar story at General Brock’s Commissary, where they sell everything from ice cream to chocolates.

“Lots of visitors from out of town, international tourists, people visiting families from out of town,” says Chris Shelley, general manager at General Brock’s Commissary.

“Americans we haven’t seen for two years, we’re seeing them now.”

Hotels, bed & breakfasts and motels in the region also saw the uptick in business as well.

The head of Kingston Accommodation Partners says bookings appear to be pointing toward a good summer season.

“Leisure travel, sport travel, film — these are segments that are gearing up and ready, and it’s a very exciting time,” says Krista LeClair, executive director of KAP.

But LeClair says while the post-pandemic bounce back is looking good, the industry is still facing some challenges.

“Where businesses still struggle is labour, and where businesses are still struggling is in those other seasons where they rely on business travel and meetings and conventions and business events and things like that,” she says.”

MacKenzie is familiar with the challenges on the labour front.

“We don’t have enough marine staff,” he says. “We don’t have enough captains and mates.”

This summer, he says, it is possible that demand will exceed what they can offer.

“We can’t send out all three boats, seven days a week, so that’s the challenge, that’s the limiting factor,” says MacKenzie.

“We haven’t seen that yet because it’s the early part of the season.”

While there are some bumps in the tourists’ road, the post-pandemic appetite for travel seems to be alive and well.

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