The City of Kenora is looking to revitalize their efforts at attracting visitors by creating a new Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee.

Councilor Mort Goss says he's been involved in tourism for more than 30 years, and he looks forward to some new energy.

"We started to look at Western Canada. We started to look at more than hook and bullet," he said, during Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting.

The new committee under council's jurisdiction will take the place of the Lake of the Woods Development Commission, although Goss would like to see regional input.

While the fishing and hunting market in the U.S. has traditionally been a focus, and represents about $450 million a year for the district according to Sunset Country, the lack of American visitors has hit outfitters hard across the district this year.

In his comments to councilors Tuesday, Goss said when he first got involved back in 1989, the tourism promotion efforts were mainly driven by member businesses, and they were mainly interested in promotions for the American market. However, the councilor said this has changed in recent years, as the city has actively sought out visitors from Manitoba for activities other than fishing or hunting.

In 2020, the sudden spread of the pandemic shut down inter-provincial and international borders, making it very challenging for businesses of any kind to operate. By July, the city started offering deliberate efforts to attract and welcome visitors to its downtown.

Along with Sunset Country, which represents more than 200 resorts, Destination Northern Ontario is also working to bring visitors to the city and district.

Megan Dokuchie is the city's economic development officer, and she used part of her virtual presentation for councilors on Tuesday to talk about steps being taken to help local businesses. This included more than 20 activities that she categorized into main themes.

"The four priorities relate primarily to bringing tourists back to Kenora, restoring activity back downtown, growing resiliency in our business community and then focusing on infrastructure that would support recovery," she said.

An informal survey of business owners showed most have reopened in some form, and revitalizing a tourism committee will be a focus moving forward.

For more information:

Councilors focus on economic recovery

Businesses can get help to adapt to second wave, chamber

Province offers help to businesses adapting to pandemic

Feds offer $600 million to help small businesses