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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pelee Island tourism on the rise

The Windsor Star/Sharon Hill

Tourism was up on Pelee Island this year.

“It was a great summer,” Pelee Island Mayor Rick Masse said Wednesday.

“It’s probably been one of the better years since the 1990s.”

By the end of October, the ferry system that serves the Lake Erie island already had more passengers than all of last year, said Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island executive director Gordon Orr.

The ferry system had 90,551 passengers by Oct. 31 which beats the number of passengers in all of 2014 — which was 89,645 people — and could surpass the 2013 total of 90,628 passengers, Orr said.

And those numbers may not have captured the estimated 1,000 hunters for the fall pheasant hunts, he said.

It will take until the end of the year to see if the number of vehicles ferried to the island will surpass last year’s total. Orr said the ferry system transported 31,922 vehicles this year until Oct. 31, compared to the 32,323 vehicles that used the ferry in all of 2014.

Orr said it’s tremendous news.

The U.S. dollar has helped and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island promoted the island this year with new videos including one that is shown on the ferry and one that is shown at Highway 401 tourist information centres, he said.

Masse said he wanted to thank the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island for the marketing campaign, and Michael Coteau, minister of tourism, culture and sport, for saying Pelee Island is a “premier tourism showpiece” this summer.

Ontario announced in June the island will be getting a new ferry to replace the old M.V. Pelee Islander and serve with the M.V. Jiimaan. More visitors to the island can also help Kingsville and Leamington where the ferries dock.

It’s too early to have tourism figures for Windsor and Essex County although Orr said he expects good news because hotel occupancy and tunnel traffic was up.

The region receives about 4.8 million visitors a year which have an estimated economic impact of $500 million, he said.

Windsor-Essex

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