Outfitters across Sunset Country are facing a difficult summer. A petition started Wednesday had more than 1,500 names today.

The lobbying campaign included a video that featured the voices of lodge owners, who were facing 20 months without revenue and the end of their family business, if they didn't get some form of aid.

"I've been in this business for 36 years. I've weathered many storms, a couple of recessions without any problem, but this is something we couldn't have seen or planned for," said one owner.

"Taking on more loans is not the answer," said another.

"We're never known what it  means to work eight-hour days or take weekends off. We employ thousand of hard-working people like ourselves," they continued.  "We could survive this if we were just given a chance. If help doesn't come soon, the heart of northwestern Ontario will be gone."

Jerry Cariou of Sunset Country estimates 40 per cent of lodge and resort owners won't even open this year, due to a lack of business.

"Certainly, the lodges and resorts are in a pretty bleak spot, largely based on decisions made regarding the border and its closure," he said Friday.

Cariou estimates the operators bring in about $450 million a year to the region, and he expects the tough times for operators to continue. Even if the border is opened again, Canadian public health officials are asking for a 14-day self-quarantine. 

"That the hunting vacation -- even say in September, October November for somebody from the United States -- difficult," Cariou emphasized.

Operators say more than 90 per cent coming from the U.S., so the efforts to reach out to new customers in Manitoba and other parts of Canada aren't enough, especially for the remote fly-in camps, where millions in overhead costs are involved. 

Kenora MP Eric Melillo has been lobbying the federal government, and the minister responsible for FedNor -- Melanie Joly -- says Ottawa is working with the tourism sector, in an effort to mitigate the impact of the economic shutdown required to battle COVID-19.

Across the border in the U.S., new records continued to be set last week with more than 50,000 new cases reported in a day.

For more information:

Petition - Save Sunset Country Tourism Before It's Too Late

FedNor reaching out to tourism sector, minister

Rickford announces more reopenings

Tourism businesses ‘need clarity’ on their seasons, Melillo