Kingston’s tourism and hotel industry has had to frequently pivot during the pandemic, and is currently shuttered due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Tourism Kingston’s Director of Marketing and Communication Alison Migneault says COVID has changed the way she and her team plan and work throughout current restrictions.
“At the moment it’s not appropriate to be encouraging visitation to the city because we know that we need to sort of stay home a little bit more and restrict our social interactions,” Migneault said.
“But that doesn’t mean I can’t then talk more to residents or more regional messaging and make sure that people understand what offers local businesses have that they can participate and support them.”
She says Tourism’s job has always been primarily about supporting local business, and now more than ever.
The local tourism and hotel industries are hopeful a new tax credit made available to Ontario residents can help to make up for what is being made a difficult winter season due to COVID restrictions.
Dubbed the “Ontario Staycation Tax Credit for 2022”, residents can claim up twenty percent of their accommodations cost as a personal tax credit.
Individuals can claim up to $1000 and receive $200 of eligible expenses back.
Krista Leclair, Executive Director of Kingston Accommodation partners says she is hopeful the tax credit will encourage people to travel to Kingston outside of the peak season, and despite a tumultuous last couple of years, Kingston’s accommodations capacity has only increased.
Leclair says local accommodations continue to see a fair amount of leisure travel in warmer months, but in the last two years have hurt because of a significant loss of group travel.
“While in summer occupancy is really high so we do have smaller capacity to bring in groups and things like that,” Leclair said.
“However in most of the rest of the year the hotels rely on group travel very highly so we’re talking sports, we’re talking meetings and conferences, we’re talking things that haven’t quite come back yet.”
Leclair says while there has been a fair amount of support for businesses, not every idea has been an option for every business.
“Some of the supports have been fantastic, some of them have missed the mark,” Leclair said.
“I think one of the most important points is not every support fits every business and so there have been lots of situations where certain businesses have been falling through the cracks because support criteria doesn’t fit their business model.”
The hardship of Kingston’s tourism industry is not unique to the city, but has been clear and measurable.
In 2019, Kingston’s tourism industry had an estimated $540 million in estimated economic impact, but in 2021 that impact was only projected to reach $330 million.