“Whether people fuel up or go to a restaurant, or stay here and ski, the residual effect is huge,” says Neil Lumsden.
Neil Lumsden understands the ‘sports’ component in sports touring.
The former Canadian Football League (CFL) star, and now Ontario’s minister of tourism, culture and sport, visited the Horseshoe Resort in Oro-Medonte Township on Monday to familiarize himself with the grounds.
“It’s just to get a better understanding of their business model, what they’re doing, why they’re so successful, why they’re so good at what they do,” Lumsden said.
“It’s good for us to get a better understanding, at a basic level, of how this business is run and the great strides they’re making and the changes they’re making on an ongoing basis to have a great offering for families who, as I saw today, on a Monday, it’s just tremendous,” he added.
Horseshoe was your usual hive of activity on Monday, with skiers and snowboarders going up and down its snowy hills, no doubt helped by recent snowfall and some sunshine.
Lumsden toured the resort with Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey, who is also Ontario’s attorney general.
The visiting MPP said that the importance of sports tourism cannot be underestimated.
“Massive, it’s massive,” Lumsden said. “You see what the impact is from an employment perspective, the number of people Horseshoe employs, year-round, the amount of income it generates within the community.
“Whether it’s people getting gas or going to a restaurant, or staying here and skiing, the residual effect is huge,” he added. “Whether it’s an event that comes here this weekend, or for a week (day), the impact is tremendous. I think we can lose sight of the importance of tourism and how it empowers communities.”
Lumsden also noted that his ministry has played a role in sports tourism that survived the COVID-19 pandemic, a nearly three-year international health emergency, with funding for the industry.
But the industry’s own talents are also impressive, the minister added.
“To see how they’ve been through a very, very difficult time and how grateful they are for our government’s support of what they’re doing,” he said. “They may not have made it if it hadn’t been for our government providing money through that and allowing them to come out on the other side.
“(They’re) better than they were before because they had to be creative, they had to take a hard look at their business model and how they were not only going to get ahead, but how they were going to be better.”
Lumsden also said Ontarians are once again appreciating what they have in their home province.
“The recognition of what Ontario has to offer … and we’re seeing and hearing about it in a more important way and I think it’s going to pay dividends in the long run,” he said.
“Certainly people want to get out of the province and I understand that, but look at what we have and some of the great stuff within the province,” Lumsden added. “No matter the season, no matter the time, Ontario has a lot to offer and people are starting to recognize it.”
Lumsden, a three-time Gray Cup champion at fullback with the Edmonton Eskimos (now called the Elks), was also scheduled to be in Mount St. Louis Monday morning and Blue Mountain near Collingwood this afternoon to hand out awards for the snowboard. championship.
The Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MPP was elected to the Ontario Legislature as a Progressive Conservative in the June election in Ontario.