Welcome tourists

The Victoria Day long weekend, which also happens to coincide with the opener of walleye season this year, is the traditional start of summer for residents here in Rainy River District.
It also marks the start of something else very important to the economic well-being of our area—tourist season.
This annual influx of visitors, primarily from the United States, comes here in search of the great fishing, boating, and camping opportunities our little corner of the world offers. That, in turn, means jobs for the tourist industry which caters to them year in and year out—and money that subsequently gets re-circulated around the district.
Fort Frances, arguably the major “gateway” into Northwestern Ontario, certainly benefits from the tourists who stop to pick up supplies and eat before driving on to their final destination, or spend the night before flying out to a remote outpost camp.
We cannot, however, take the tourist industry for granted. Like so many others, it’s suffering these days thanks, in large part, to the higher loonie, soaring gasoline prices, the impending passport requirement by the Bush administration, and the perception that it’s more difficult to enter Canada at the border.
Fortunately, that message is being heeded. Tomorrow, for instance, a workshop is planned at 5:30 p.m. at the Adventure Inn here that will focus on how to continue to make our region a high-value tourist destination.
The point is simple: all local businesses benefit from tourism, whether directly or indirectly. And that means jobs for the rest of us and our children, as well as a solid commercial tax base to support our communities.
A concerted effort is needed now to attract more tourists to our area—and ensure we reap the windfall for years to come.