Citing a major decline in visitors and requests for information, Muskoka Tourism has closed its visitor centre on Hwy. 11.
The building was permanently closed on Oct. 10.
Val Hamilton, Interim Executive Director of Muskoka Tourism Marketing Agency (MTMA), says there has been a 75-per cent decline in visitation since 2015. She explains that with smartphones becoming more and more a part of people’s lives and many having their visit to Muskoka planned before stepping foot in town, there has been less of a need for the centre.
“The decline has been happening for much longer than that,” she says, adding less than 1,000 people came in last year. “We need to move some of our resources around so that we can achieve our goal to become Ontario’s must-experience destination 365 days a year.”
Hamilton says they will be supporting the Chambers of Commerce throughout Muskoka and use the money saved from closing the building towards “innovative marketing tactics” to bring more visitors to the area. She points out that the chambers operate visitors centres as well and get much more traffic. She says MTMA will work with them so they have information about what’s happening throughout the area. “If you’re visiting Bracebridge maybe you want to know what’s going on up in Huntsville and you’re going to do a secondary day trip there,” explains Hamilton.
“It’s a competitive market to ensure travellers choose us as their destination of choice and we need to create innovative and impactful marketing campaigns to grow our awareness and leads to our tourism operators,” says Hamilton. “MTMA is focused on maximizing our funding along with fostering strategic partnerships to create campaigns that showcase Muskoka as the must-experience destination in Ontario every season of the year.”
MTMA will enter a lease agreement with the Muskoka Airport in Gravenhurst in early 2023 that will allow them to have an office space for the organization to be used exclusively for administrative purposes.