Why no tourist boom?

Visitor numbers unchanged from 2011

 By Barb McKay


While the number of visitors who have passed through the Kincardine visitor information centre is much the same as last year, downtown businesses are experiencing highs and lows this season.


Kelly Young, an employee of Fincher’s, said business has been steady this summer, but staff is not seeing the same kind of traffic as in 2011.


“It’s a little bit slower,” she said. “Although, I had someone in (on a recent Sunday) who said, ‘you’re the busiest store in town.’”


Pat Perkins, manager of Becker Shoes in Kincardine, said business has been slower than usual this year.


“(Traffic) is down,” she said. “The people aren’t here. July was horrible. I think it’s just the economy. People are assessing how they are spending.”


Perkins said she has not seen as many American visitors this year, perhaps because the Canadian dollar has, for the most part, been on par with the U.S. dollar.


Perkins said the store is still holding its own and the downtown street sales, organized by the BIA, have helped some.


Other businesses, including Baxter’s Row, are enjoying a boom in business this summer.


“It’s our bread and butter during the summer,” said owner Susan Austin. “We see new people every week. People like coming to the town. They like the personalized service.”


Krista Bell, of Accents by Gordon’s, said this season has been so busy Accents has extended summer hours and is now open on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“Women, in particular, are having a great time in our town,” Bell said. “There are so many different shops.”


Bell said she and other staff members often recommend other downtown stores and restaurants to their shoppers.


“It’s not about us, it’s about all the businesses downtown,” she said.


Bell said Gordon’s Pharmasave has also seen a steady stream of traffic.


“I think tourism is up,” she said. “We’ve had such a warm summer. It’s been great.”


Kelly McDonald, tourism co-ordinator for Kincardine, said that since the beginning of June a total of 2,850 people have come through the visitor information centre looking for information about things to do in Kincardine, as well as places to stay and eat.


Where the tourism department is seeing big increases in traffic is on its Facebook page.


“We've had huge successes with our Facebook page this year,” she said in an email to The Independent.


 “The best function in my eyes is the ability to obtain stats for each and every post or photo that we put up. We have just over 820 'likes' currently, which provides a market even larger than that once our 'likers' start sharing our posts on their pages; a huge bang for no buck. We are aiming for 1,000 ‘likes’ by the end of summer and are offering prizes at target levels.”


McDonald said the Facebook page has allowed Kincardine to market to an audience on a continual bases; post information before, during and after events, provide updates on beach conditions, etc.


“Facebook interaction is also key for us,” McDonald said. “Our likers are able to post photos, make comments or suggestions. We're hoping this market can only grow further for us as more businesses and attractions turn to this type of media for promotion.”


Kincardine Tourism has developed new partnerships this year that have helped it further market the community, McDonald said.


“We were fortunate to form a partnership with Rogers TV this year,” she said. “Our summer staff taped weekly segments with Rogers TV called In the Loop. Segments aired weekly, promoting upcoming events and local attractions. We're hoping to continue this segment next season as well.”


The Bluewater Summer Playhouse is also working with Kincardine this year and is currently housing a satellite information office inside the box office at the Scougall Gallery where visitors can pick up information about local attractions.