Smiths Falls bracing for tourist invasion in 2018

Downtown Smiths Falls.
Posted on: April 7, 2018

Chris Must
editorial@pdgmedia.ca

With the pride of Le Boat’s luxury houseboat fleet ready to embark on the Rideau in May, the town of Smiths Falls is expecting an influx of visitors from all over the globe.

To help make sure the community is positioned to make the best of this opportunity, the town’s Economic Development and Tourism Department is sponsoring a number of workshops and other initiatives for local business owners and service providers.

Along with Le Boat launching its first season of luxury canal boat rentals, Smiths Falls will be acquiring a second tourist attraction in 2018 with the opening of Tweed’s visitor centre. The largest indoor marijuana growing facility in the world, Tweed now has 800 employees with plans for immediate further expansion.

At a meeting of the Smiths Falls Tourism and Culture Working Group Friday, April 6, Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator Ingrid Bron announced that a workshop entitled “Welcoming the World” will be held Wednesday, April 11. The workshop, organized by the Local Immigration Partnership and the Downtown Business Association, will be facilitated by Jennifer Debruin. Participants will learn how to welcome guests from different countries and cultures, and how to make their stores and services easier to access for visitors who may have language barriers.

Eleven people had signed up for the free workshop as of Friday. To register, email emorrison@smithsfalls.ca.

Another seminar focussing on customer service, with a Lanark County-wide focus, is being offered by the Small Business Advisory Centre. To participate, email smallbusiness@smallbizcentre.ca.

Bron also announced that business owners and other stakeholders will have the opportunity to experience what Smiths Falls has to offer from a tourist’s perspective through “familiarization tours” scheduled for May 7 and May 28. These sessions will include participating in heritage walking tours and visiting local restaurants and museums. Participants, said Bron, will “basically have the visitor experience,” enabling them to learn first-hand what the town has to offer, and how to make recommendations to visitors. The tours are also free, and more information may be obtained by contacting Amy Hogue, ahogue@storm.ca.

To help promote Smiths Falls and area as a tourist destination, a number of publications have been produced and distributed, including the annual Smiths Falls Visitor’s Guide, listing attractions and events for 2018.

“We have boxes and boxes of them,” said Bron. The tourist guides will be available at Rideau Canal lock stations, at local museums, and at downtown businesses.

Help for local organizations needing volunteers will be provided through a Community Events Information and Volunteer Fair. The upper floor of the community centre has been booked for two hours, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, for this event. Community organizations seeking volunteers are encouraged to participate.

Also continuing in 2018 is the On the Roll Music Series. After launching a public call for musicians, the town now has a roster of 50 mostly local acts available to provide music for events hosted by local groups. The town has some funding budgeted to assist with payment for music, and will work with event organizers to help add entertainment to their events.