Provincial and Federal Initiatives Will Help to Strengthen Ontario Resort Summer Tourism in Muskoka North/Almaguin

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The unveiling last month of the Ontario government's "Discover Ontario: A report on the future of tourism", a massive new initiative aimed at revitalizing the province's tourism industry, coupled with last week's announcement by the Federal government to infuse 25 million dollars into the country's trail systems will help to increase summer tourism in the Almaguin Tourism regions of Ontario and fill North Muskoka resorts.

Things are looking up for Ontario resort operators this summer. The current economic slow-down is going to have a big influence on where people choose to spend this year's vacation. Instead of taking an expensive European tour or Caribbean cruise, many will chose to economize and vacation closer to home. This summer many will choose to spend their summer holiday at an Ontario lakefront resort or cottage rental, especially when you can drive to a lakeside resort destination in less than three hours. As well, recently announced Provincial and Federal government programs and initiatives will further boast tourism, especially in areas like the Almaguin Highlands, a lesser-known tourist region located directly north of Muskoka that has much to offer including an established trail system. Almaguin Highlands resort operator Michael Piraino, owner of Northridge Inn & Resort (http://www.northridgeinn.com), an upscale four-season resort on Lake Bernard near the town of Sundridge, feels that both the Federal and Provincial plans will help to further increase business this summer and in the future. "Tourism is important to our local economy and its economic spinoff for the Almaguin Highlands and North Muskoka region is enormous. The more exposure that North Muskoka gets - the better it is for tourism. Right now we are a well-kept secret. People need to know that we are a terrific vacation destination, that we have miles of great trails and that we are less than three hours from Toronto," states Piraino.

Released in February, the provincial initiative, Discovering Ontario: A report on the future of tourism (http://www.tourismstudy.ca), came up with four strategic and 20 specific recommendations to revitalize and grow tourism in the province in order to create jobs, to build the economy and complete on a continent-wide basis for tourism dollars. The report recommends both public and private investment in tourism infrastructure and dividing the province into 11 regional tourism destinations. Through extensive consultation and study, a 10-year plan was drawn for boosting tourism by marketing Ontario as one of the world's best places to visit. "This report is a road map for the next decade and beyond that will help Ontario create jobs and generate wealth," remarks MPP Greg Sorbara, who released the report. "I urge everyone in the tourism sector who has been calling for fundamental change to seize this opportunity and help make it happen. Together, the industry and government can revitalize our tourism offering so that it flourishes for decades to come."

Last week, Industry Minister Tony Clement announced that the federal government will invest $25 million into Canada's network of snowmobile and ATV trails as part of a broader two-year economic action plan. Clement said that trails not only offer citizens recreation, they are also very valuable for economic, social, environmental and cultural reasons, which is why they have become a priority on the government's two-year plan. "Now, I don't have to tell you that these trails attract tens of thousands of snowmobilers, ATVers, and every kind of outdoor enthusiast every year," Clement said, "And the bottom line is this stimulates local tourism, and provides access for an active outdoor experience." For regions like the Almaguin Highlands that have hundreds of kilometres of established trails, this good news indeed. The Almaguin Highlands and Near North trail system already attracts tourists to the area year round.

Tourism is extremely important to Ontario. In 2007, tourism in the province directly or indirectly employed more than 300,000 workers. In the same year, revenue derived from tourism was $22.1 billion or 3.4 per cent of the province's Gross Domestic Product, greater than the combined total from agriculture, forestry, commercial fishing/hunting and mining. Both the Government of Ontario's Discover Ontario initiative and the Federal Government's 25 million dollars commitment to the country's trail systems will do much to increase tourism in the province. Ontario resort and tourism operators from across the province welcome the Discover Ontario report and are anxious for its recommendations to be implemented. For Northridge Inn & Resort's Michael Piraino the report is seen as an important step forward for tourism. "The release of the Ontario tourism competitiveness study demonstrates the value government places on the tourism industry. It is a major economic driver that benefits everyone," adds Piraino.

About Northridge Inn & Resort: Located in the Almaguin Highlands, just north of Muskoka, Northridge Inn & Resort (http://www.northridgeinn.com) is a full service, four-season resort with luxurious accommodations in a private setting. With stunning lake views, large sand beach, gourmet dining and a wide range of recreational amenities, Northridge Inn has everything to make your Muskoka resort vacation or romantic couple's getaway very special. Call Northridge Inn 705-384-2252 for more information about their lakefront accommodations and special packages or visit their web site http://www.northridgeinn.com.

Contact Information:
Michael & Brenda Piraino
Northridge Inn & Resort
712 South Bernard Lake Road
P.O. Box 1189
Sundridge, Ontario P0A 1Z0
705-384-2252
info (at) northridgeinn (dot) com
http://www.northridgeinn.com

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