Recreation, leisure businesses benefit as Kingston residents head outdoors amid COVID-19 reopening

Click to play video: 'Recreation and leisure businesses seeing increase in customers in Kingston' Recreation and leisure businesses seeing increase in customers in Kingston
WATCH: Outdoor activities are leading to increased business for recreation and leisure retailers during the novel coronavirus pandemic – Jun 16, 2020

With nice weather in full swing, Kingston residents are heading outdoors after several months of being cooped up inside because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kingston resident Stephanie Perry brought her young son Jaydon to Doug Fluhrer Park on the shores of the Cataraqui River Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ve been stuck in the house a lot. The kids are getting really bored, and so we thought we’d go for a walk and feed the ducks,” Perry said.

With pandemic restrictions slowly being loosened, the push to engage in outdoor activities is benefitting local recreation and leisure businesses.

READ MORE: Kingston businesses looking forward to reopening under Stage 2

Trailhead Kingston owner James Malcolm says he’s seeing new customers and increased interest in a lot of the gear he sells at his store.

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“In our kayaks, in our SUP boards; the standup paddleboards are super popular. I get a feeling that people are kind of keen to stay local or they’re a little unsure as to how far they can go and maybe book some holidays,” Malcolm says.

Ahoy Rentals owner Andrew Kelm says customers can rent bicycles, kayaks and sailboats by the hour or for the day from his store, located on the waterfront in downtown Kingston.

Only open for a little over a week now, Kelm says business has been pretty close to on par with past years despite the pandemic, but there have been some changes.

READ MORE: Months after being shuttered due to COVID-19, more Kingston businesses, activities reopening

His customer makeup has been fairly even between tourists and local residents in the past, Kelm says.

This year, however, Kelm says his bookings have been 90 per cent local residents.

“Weekends are busy times, and even mid-week is busy, that’s the thing,” he says. “I really didn’t know what to expect when I first opened.”

Kelm says water sports have been the majority of his business so far with bike rentals down compared to past years.

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Activities like these have been cited as having positive physical and mental health benefits for individuals by health professionals like KFL&A’s chief medical officer, Dr. Kieran Moore, after weeks of relative isolation at home.

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