Arnott: tourism is facing big problems

Premier Dal­ton McGuinty has offered no new or effective plan for Onta­rio’s struggling tourism industry, which is bracing for what could be one of its worst summers on record.

That was the charge made recently by Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott.

“The premier’s plan isn’t working,” said Arnott. “He’s spending $8-million on a long-term, so-called tourism com­peti­tiveness study, but offers nothing for the many thousands of Ontarians whose jobs are already at risk.”

Arnott asked McGuinty to adopt Progressive Conservative leader John Tory’s plan to eliminate the retail sales tax on all accommodations and attrac­tions for the summer months – a suggestion the premier ignored.  Instead, he cited one-year-old statistics from his briefing book on visitors to Ontario.

“Their [tourism competi­tiveness] study so far has done nothing except put tourism in the red – Liberal red,” said Arnott told the legislature.

He said of the study, “That’s just not good enough. … It’s just the beginning of June and our tourism numbers are al­ready in freefall. Just ask the members from Simcoe North and Parry Sound-Muskoka. Our plan would allow families to keep their summer travel plans in the province of Onta­rio. The premier’s plans offers nothing but travel plans for the member for Vaughan.

“I ask the premier, what will he do today to stop the ripple effect a weakening tourism industry will have on our economy this summer?”

McGuinty replied, “Again, one of the things of which we are very proud is our advertising campaign, ‘There’s no place like this.’ I know that the member opposite will have seen some of those ads and I’m sure that he’s very much supportive of those. We’ve been using a number of enter­tainers and Ontario personali­ties to help promote the quality of the tourism experience in the province of Ontario. Especially given the fact that with rising gas prices, I know that Ontario families are still determined to seek out some kind of experience, modest though it may be, when it comes to having some kind of a holiday opportunity with the children.

“We are strongly encour­age them to look just around the corner to the wonderful experi­ences that are to be found in this province.”