Pelee Island

Over the Lake: Tourism During a Global Pandemic and Beyond

For many city dwellers stuck indoors and surrounded by concrete, spending time at parks, getting outside hiking and biking have been a welcome reprieve from the day to day. “Demand for backcountry campsites in Ontario’s provincial parks is up 29% from a year ago,” according to a recent Toronto Sun article. “We’re seeing a big rush to spend time outside,” Sarah McMichael, a marketing manager with Ontario Parks told the Toronto Sun.

Early spring discussions about tourism on Pelee Island were generally not optimistic. Still, the trend to get outside, paired with a hyper-local marketing focus from Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island has had a similar effect on the island.

An estimated 30% of the island is conservation land, dotted with trails, along with two provincial parks at points North and South. There is plenty of outdoor space to explore on Pelee Island.

Many businesses did not open for the season, citing fears about operating at a loss for a very shortened tourism season.  Those businesses that did open have their hands full and are ready for a formal strategy to manage tourism and capitalize on the natural appeal Pelee Island has to offer.

At the August 24th regular meeting of council, the Township of Pelee Municipal Council voted to commit $2500 to hire a consultant to develop a tourism strategy for the island.

In partnership with Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, the Township of Pelee will be responsible for hiring an external third party consultant to conduct a 3-5 year strategic plan as it relates to tourism development on Pelee Island.

“Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) would provide stewardship in securing Regional Tourism Organization 1 funding, offer financial support, help with the recruitment of a consultant, move the project forward and keep it on track until presented and endorsed by the Township of Pelee Council,” according to a letter sent to Mayor Durocher from TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr.

The plan was formally supported by Pelee Island Winery and The Wandering Dog Inn.

Melissa Malloch of The Westview Tavern hopes any plan developed includes a strong communications component to give tourists as much information about the island as possible. Malloch cites the 90-minute boat ride as an excellent opportunity to speak directly to island visitors.

Troy Loop, owner of Kingsville’s Banded Goose Brewing Co., Distinctive Inns of Kingsville and Jacks Gastropub, thinks a formal plan for Pelee Island could benefit the larger region.

“We will need to have strength in our common message to be heard in a very loud and crowded marketplace as everyone fights to reclaim business,” said Loop. “A formalized approach to gaining these strategies is a tremendous opportunity for Pelee Island and its larger community of Kingsville and Essex County.”

The plan includes the selection of a consultant in fall of 2020 with intent for a strategic plan to be forthcoming in 2021.

Photos by Cathy Miller

Cathy + Kevin Miller
The Wandering Dog Inn

One Comment

  1. Avatar Carolyn Fordyce

    Full steam ahead I say…Pelee Island needs to be showcased to attracted tourism…helping them will help all of us..

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