The summer season will soon be upon us and it’s going to be a pivotal year for the tourism industry.
It’s an understatement to say the last three years have been especially challenging for the tourism sector. It’s not just the public health restrictions and shut downs that we went through — tourism, and the service and hospitality sectors more broadly, are facing some of the biggest hurdles in hiring and retaining their workforce. This is especially difficult in rural areas where there is little local workforce to draw from.
According to the State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, issues including access to labour, soaring debt, rural internet challenges, and a lack of public transportation connecting destinations have led to only 4 in 10 tourism operators forecasting profitability in 2024.
While this paints a bleak picture of the industry, our region has so much to offer. For the outdoorsy, we have a collection of beautiful lakes, rivers, and hiking trails that are the envy of many places across Canada and beyond. Downtown Peterborough offers a collection of culinary and cultural activities that punch well above our weight. Those looking to spend a few nights can choose between big hotels with all the amenities or quaint boutique hotels, resorts that are bustling with activity or secluded and serene, lakefront cottages, bed and breakfasts, or bring your own lodging with a camper or tent.
One particular gem that’s returning bigger and better is Peterborough Musicfest. Where else can you find a summer-long free concert series that has hosted the likes of Randy Bachman, Tegan and Sara, and Walk Off the Earth? Musicfest has a local economic impact of $5 million and brings in an audience of 150,000 over the summer. It’s a long-running hit with locals, but more than 1/3 of attendees report being from out-of-town.
It's not just big names and big crowds — it’s uniquely Peterborough. It’s right on the shores of Little Lake, the beautiful gathering place at the end of the rapids known as Nogojiwanong. It’s also in the heart of our city, just a few blocks from our vibrant downtown restaurant and shopping experience and close enough to inhale the sweet smell of oatmeal from Quaker. As a free music festival that aims big, it’s supported by our community through corporate sponsorships from local businesses, government grants, community fundraising initiatives, and private donations.
The 2023 Peterborough Musicfest Lineup has yet to be announced, but the team have already spilled the beans on two acts: Dwayne Gretzky on July 5 and Little River Band on July 26.
Our region has a many more activities that enhance our tourism sector. 4th Line Theatre is running two shows at their beautiful rural location near Millbrook. We have top-notch entertainment venues at Market Hall, Showplace Performance Centre, and the Peterborough Memorial Centre. You can immerse yourself in history at Lang Pioneer Village, Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough Museum & Archives, and soon at a beautiful brand new Canadian Canoe Museum. We have beaches, wineries, breweries, distilleries, agricultural fairs, unique shopping experiences, art galleries, golf courses, agritourism, river cruises, and much more. Peterborough and the Kawarthas Tourism has a host of suggestions for things to enjoy here in our region.
We have so much to offer here in Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Let’s be intentional in investing here in our community when it comes to enjoying and promoting local. Tourism campaigns aren’t just something for marketing agencies — it’s something we can all do when talking with family, friends, colleagues, and our social media connections. We are all ambassadors for Peterborough and the Kawarthas and we have a lot to showcase.
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