The Future of Ontario Tourism

Tourism is a crucial sector of Ontario’s economy that essentially stopped cold when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now Ontario is beginning to reopen, and after being cooped up in their houses for months, Ontarians are beginning to explore their province again.

How will the pandemic impact tourism in Ontario this year? The Southwest Ontario Tourism Cooperation (SWOTC) partnered with other tourism organizations and Abacus Data to collect and present data that answered this exact question.

Back in March, SWOTC decided that it would be helpful to understand what travellers would be looking for as the province begins to reopen. They wanted to know what travellers would want to do, where they would want to go, how the pandemic had impacted their ability to travel, and what would make them feel safe.

The following are the top 11 takeaways from their research:

  1. Concerns about the pandemic are lingering, especially around the concerns of a second wave and contracting the virus
  2. Mitigating risk for travellers is essential to increase consumer confidence
  3. Familiarity and safety of destinations have become more important than price, quality, and experience
  4. Cleanliness is more important than ever
  5. Consumers are choosing accommodations based on the level of risk they see associated with their choice
  6. Visitors want to participate in activities where there is space, thus the outdoors
  7. Limited willingness to travel long distances, so it is easy to return home
  8. Visitors are more likely to visit a destination they have visited in the past
  9. The majority of travellers will test the waters and carefully get back into travel
  10. 2020 will be the year of the road trip
  11. Travellers will return!

What does this mean for businesses in Rural Oxford?

Rural Oxford is rich with history and culture that attracts a ton of tourists every year, and the businesses and attractions in Rural Oxford have not been immune to the adverse effects of the pandemic.

Cases of COVID-19 have remained low in Rural Oxford but tourists from other regions of the province that come to visit our area present a risk that could result in an increase of cases. That’s why businesses in Rural Oxford need to consider these takeaways as they reopen.

Make sure your business has developed a strategy to maintain physical distancing or operate outdoors and ensure that you are demonstrating to visitors that there are heightened cleanliness practices in place. Brainstorm about how you can reach out to past visitors and demonstrate the familiarity and safety that your business offers.

Most of all, keep your chin up! Things will eventually return to a level of normalcy and travellers will return to Rural Oxford. Persevering through this all has shown the resiliency of the Rural Oxford community. When the tourists return, we will welcome them with open arms.


Abacus Data Online Survey, “How will the Pandemic Impact Travel in Ontario this Year?”, June 2020.

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