Chamber president shares report with council stating need for a hotel

 

ACOC logoBy Ron Giofu

 

The president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) has shared a hotel needs assessment with the municipality with the report contending there is a need for a “niche hotel and banquet facility” in town.

Ray Bezaire appeared before town council last week and presented the report to the town, a report which carries the recommendation that “it is the considered view of individuals, service groups, businesses and visitors to our community that there is a well-supported need for a niche hotel and banquet facility in the Town of Amherstburg.”

Bezaire said the report was compiled with the assistance of such groups as the University of Windsor’s Centre of Business Excellence among others. He told council that the town has “realized tremendous growth” from a visitor perspective, citing the local wineries and signature events. He added the Libro Centre – formerly known as the United Communities Credit Union Complex – “continues to attract outside sporting organizations” to town.

Without a new hotel, Bezaire said visitors have to find other municipalities in which to stay.

“We see revenue literally floating out of Amherstburg time and time again,” he said.

The report claims that business and economic conditions in town have “stabilized over the past several years” and that “extensive investments” by the town in “essential infrastructure” as well as the town’s cultural and heritage attractions brought 114,000 recorded visitors and over $5 million in visitor expenditures in 2012.

“The events and activities that have become woven into the fabric of the Town of Amherstburg are varied,” the report states. “In addition to regular wine tours and farmer markets, there are several signature events for the town that has increased visitor traffic 171 per cent since 2009.”

Bezaire added that “Amherstburg is a destination of choice for weddings,” telling council 296 wedding parties have been documented to have come to Amherstburg for photo shoots in recent years.

The report points out the town has the 35-room Duffy’s Motel and the 26-room Blue Haven Hotel, with the latter using 14 of those rooms for apartments. The nine bed and breakfasts average 2.5 rooms each, the report added. While Leamington and Windsor are “indeed potential secondary competitors,” the report maintains that “current requirements of the Town of Amherstburg, in line with its culture and tourism amenities, a new multi-sport complex along with its current year-round attractors, reflect the need for a niche/boutique type of hotel accommodation. According to Amherstburg tourism visitor information staff, visitors report that they would rather stay in Amherstburg given some choice or updated facilities.”

Bezaire believed that “more people would do more in Amherstburg if we had a hotel.”

Councillor John Sutton said he welcomed the ongoing partnership with the ACOC on the study and said he would like to see further discussions with them on the matter. Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland said there was a lot of “meat” to the report and wondered if the ACOC had met with the town’s economic development department.

Bezaire told Sutherland there are plans to have such a meeting with the economic development department.

The ACOC presented the report with the goal of further enhancing the document in partnership with town administration or to look at a possible partnership to either use the town’s resources for more information or co-funding for a more in-depth feasibility study that is market ready.

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