/Is tourism dead?

Is tourism dead?

By Emily Stonehouse

When you work in this line of business, you spend an awful lot of time with your ear to the ground. Following social media pages that do not pertain to your personal life, reading other sources, listening to the radio. 

Because this is a job that isn’t about talking. It’s about listening. 

And one constant murmur I’ve been hearing on the channels I am tuned in to, is about how businesses are struggling this summer. 

As most of you know, summer is the bread and butter season for many locals. We are a tourism community through and through, and while many folks see the lazy hazy days of summer as an opportunity to kick back and relax at the cottage or at camps, I don’t think I know a single local who takes a summer off. This is our go-time. Our opportunity to make money that will carry us through the gray days that are on the horizon. 

Shops are open longer hours, restaurants are bustling, experience providers are pumping out new adventures so that those folks who use our area as their escape can make new memories, and be convinced to come back again next year. 

I myself spent a decade in the tourism industry prior to my work with the newspaper; following the trends of community needs, and tracking the dollars our community earned. 

But this year, have we hit a stalemate? 

I have watched on social media channels as many business owners have shared their struggles this summer. And there’s always the speculation about why. Are folks not visiting due to the fire ban? Was the smoke bothering people? Maybe the weather wasn’t hot enough? Or too hot? Not enough rain? Or maybe too much rain? What’s the reason? Why isn’t Haliburton County on the map anymore? 

And as I watch these dialogues play out, I watch fingers be pointed and grim realities set in. If the summer is a bust, then that’s it. The bread and butter is gone and we’re left with meager crumbs to carry through the gray days.

I don’t think there’s a scientific reason behind the summer slump. We could look at the grand scale of things. Of the low-point we all went through during the COVID-19 pandemic; how that impacted us all emotionally, financially, and psychologically. How maybe now that that chapter is a few years behind us, folks are welcoming the opportunity to travel internationally again. 

But people traveled internationally pre-COVID. And we were always a tourism destination before. Which is why I don’t think we can blame anything other than human patterns. Like so many things in life, tourism trends have highs and lows, ups and downs. It doesn’t matter how many influencers, ads, or efforts we put into marketing our little corner of the world, we just have to trust that it will work out. Watch as the pendulum swings. 

While it’s a slow season, the best thing local businesses can do is support one another. Join community pages where you discuss the highs, the lows, the ups and the downs. Follow, like, and share other businesses’ content. Tell the visitors you do have to support other businesses as well. Collaboration over competition, always. 

Because in this little community of ours, we all deserve our bread with butter.