Recent changes in the country's impaired driving laws could have a negative impact on tourism.
There are other countries where you can also be denied entry if you have impaired driving on your record, including the United States. Still, Canadian customs are seen to be tougher, since drunk driving is a major source of serious motor vehicle accidents, and Cariou is offering another solution.
Instead of saying visitors can't come it at all, Cariou suggested an alternative, which could help remove an obstacle for the tourism industry.
"Say 'You're not allowed to drive. You have to surrender your license, and it's a felony if you are caught driving,' Cariou offered. "I would think most of the tourists would say, 'Yeah, I won't drive. My buddies'll drive.' They come up in a group."
Despite the change, Cariou says the combination of healthy economies and a low Canadian dollar could be a good combination for the upcoming tourist season in the district.
Sunset Country represents 100,000 sq. km. with 275 resorts in 16 communities, in addition to hotels and motels. The traditional activities of fishing and hunting are being diversified to include stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, festivals and attractions, Cariou added.
"It allows you to compete with the Las Vegas of the world," he said, noting Sunset Country attracts about half the freshwater anglers visiting from the United States.
In 2017, the association's budget was about $470,000. Kenora ratepayers paid about 27 cents each for the association's services. Cariou has led the association for 19 of its 43 years.
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