The 2020 summer tourism season is unlike any other seen before for the City of Kawartha Lakes.
While there have been no international visitors, the season has actually exceeded expectations amid the global coronavirus pandemic, according to officials.
“Some communities, such as Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon, our busier communities, are saying that it’s similar to what summer was like in terms of people coming to their businesses and around town,” said Laurie McCarthy, municipal tourism development officer. “So it’s been pretty steady for July and August.”
The tourism department has ramped up its social media during the summer to direct local people and those who live close by to experience the summer in the City of Kawartha Lakes.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to focus our marketing on for some time, making sure those who live here know what there is to do and experience here,” McCarthy said. “We know those who live here influence what their friends and relatives do. We need to build those ambassadors in our community.”
During the virtual meeting of the economic recovery task force last week, Rebecca Mustard, manager of economic development, said the summer social media marketing campaign has been very successful.
“The images are all about our beautiful environment and being outside. They’re carefully chosen images so that they are COVID-relevant. The messaging is about finding your summer in Kawartha Lakes,” she said. “So far, we’ve seen a huge uptake in the number of clicks from those ads into our tourism website.”
“No one knew when we were going to come out of it,” said Mayor Andy Letham, referring to the closures and restrictions from the pandemic. “It was in phases. How do we get people to come here tomorrow or for the summer? Then it was, how do we get them to come here in the fall and winter and next year?”
Letham said he was pleased with how the marketing team adapted to a challenging year.
“We want people to come up here but we also want them to come back,” Letham said. “I think we’ll have a strong tourism season next year. I’m sure hoping.”
The next phase for marketing is to sell the City of Kawartha Lakes as a place to go in the fall and winter.
The summer months are the bread and butter for tourism in the area. But in uncertain times, the tourism department will be trying to spur on visits during the down months and into next year.
“It’s important we focus on our residents and making sure locals and those nearby know what there is to see and do and experience in the Kawartha Lakes year-round,” McCarthy said. “We need to have an aggressive marketing campaign this year for fall and winter so that we have that visitor and local spend.”
A shop local campaign is underway and a signature tourism destination campaign will launch early next year.
That campaign will tie local amenities and accommodations together to create a package for those who want to come to the area.