Marcus Powlowski couldn’t be prouder of Thunder Bay. As the Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River in the House of Commons, Powlowski is working to help our tourism sector survive COVID-19.
“Thunder Bay is an easily accessible city and you can do what you want within minutes to an hour from it. The Rainy River District also has beautiful lake front lodges and beaches.”
He says we’ve done all the things Northwestern Ontario has needed to do to halt the pandemic, but tourist operators have paid the price.
Traveling within borders
“If we were to open our borders there would be a strong chance that it would increase transmission and all of the work that’s been done in our region would be lost.”
The closure of the borders has seen a flattening of the curve and Powlowski, a medical doctor, says this has been largely due to the vastness of Northwestern Ontario and the opportunity for easier isolation.
However, because we can’t go to the far-flung destinations we usually travel to in the summer and fall, we’re forced to stay close to home. That is why Powlowski is advocating for more local and regional tourism.
“We have benefitted with being a gigantic country with big spaces in terms of COVID-19 transmission. However, it has also left our region without a steady access to the domestic tourism market that places like Toronto and Niagara Falls have. Though I have been urging our local residents to get out as much as possible to their local lodges and tourism businesses, additional financial support for these businesses is going to be needed, and is something I have been advocating for throughout the spring and summer.”
During this time, Powlowski is also advocating hard for a vaccine and, if all goes according to plan with Phase 3 trials, Northwestern Ontario could very well be back to a level of normalcy by next summer.
As our country moves forward, Powlowski is looking at ways we can develop new tourism markets for our region’s businesses that would provide it with more customer options should the border close again in the future. This includes advertising for eco-tourism to get more people from countries outside of North America to Northwestern Ontario.
“There are not a lot of places in the world that have a product like we do – a beautiful outdoor experience.”
While Powlowski is hopeful for the recovery of the tourism sector, he knows that there will be challenges for these businesses until the tourism market normalizes and a vaccine is produced. This holds true for many other businesses in Northwestern Ontario.
Still, Powlowski believes that by making prudent investments now and having realistic but positive mindset for what can be done in our region for the future, Northwestern Ontario has the potential to emerge even stronger in a post COVID-19 world.
Just remember to wash your hands, wear a mask, and social distance.
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