Decrease in Chi-Cheemaun ferry traffic seems to reflect lower tourism numbers

The Chi-Cheemaun ferry.

OWEN SOUND – It seems to be the case for tourism on Manitoulin Island, and the entire region this year, that tourism traffic numbers have been lower than they were at the same time period in 2018.

That is certainly the case for the Chi-Cheemaun ferry service between South Baymouth and Tobermory, according to Susan Schrempf, president and CEO of Owen Sound Transportation Company in an interview with the Recorder late last week. 

“I can tell you that traffic is down around  five percent in numbers (compared to 2018 numbers at the same time) until August 2 and then things started to turn in the right direction.”

“We are still not doing gangbusters,” admitted Ms. Schrempf, who pointed out the traffic and passenger numbers on the Chi-Cheemaun are still “three-and-a-half percent lower than last year (at the same time).”

Ms. Schrempf feels one of the reasons for the decrease in traffic is due “to the cold, wet spring we had that continued into the summer. We were down seven percent in traffic numbers on June 13 and as of June 16 we were down 7.8 percent in traffic numbers. Since then it has been a long haul trying to dig  out.”

She explained it is nearly impossible to make up the traffic numbers later in the summer because there is not a lot of room for improvement in numbers over the previous year’s totals.

Weather conditions seem to also play a factor, said Ms. Schrempf. “If we don’t have sustained very warm temperatures for a couple of days people seem to be staying at home,” she said. “In general, the political climate is not helping tourism,” she said noting that with all the cutbacks being made people are not as eager to spend money to visit other areas. 

Despite the lower traffic numbers Ms. Schrempf is hopeful that “after the Labour Day holiday we are hoping to make up a huge gain in last year’s (traffic numbers),” noting that last year the Chi-Cheemaun lost about four days of sailing trips due to inclement weather.