The month to month closure of the border has wrecked havoc on local hunting tourism this year.
The rifle Moose hunt for our area will start this upcoming weekend and one local business owner says it won’t be the same as previous years.
Bob Garson owns Garson’s Fly-In Outposts in Sault Ste. Marie. He relies on Americans who book up to a year in advance to fill his allocation of Moose tags during rifle season. Although he would not share specifics in how much damage COVID has done to his business he explains why the absence of American hunters is bad.
“Pretty much to a person you know, it’s a dream vacation for us hunter to come up on most and get a big bull,” said Garson. “If you take the American dollar into consideration we’re able to get a lot more money for a hunt, if we have the non-residents.”
He noted his business has done their best to encourage Ontario hunters to come but the money isn’t there and with only cow tags left he hasn’t been able to get the domestic interest in his business.
Garson’s story is not the only business that will be hurt by the border closure. Laurie Marcil is the executive director of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario and although reluctant to guess the damage she said it would most likely be an over 75 percent loss to businesses in Ontario.
“Outfitters have all of these tags available, all these applications available, all these vacation spots available, all these accommodations available,” said Marcil. “When you try to market that to a domestic market, it doesn’t necessarily bring in the same level of revenue that you normally have.”
She points to the fact residents of Ontario aren’t moving around as much due to the pandemic. She also notes they can get their own tags from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
As of 2014 hunting in northern Ontario brought in approximately 36 million to the local economy through outfitters like Garson’s. When you add fishing to the mix it’s upwards of 400 million in new money.
Residents are reminded if you see violations you can call 1-877-847-7667 any time. It will connect you with the MNRF Tips Line.