House Call with Carol Hughes

Exploring your own backyard

Even if many travel plans have been put on hold, the weather is certainly co-operating this summer. While people wait to see how we will get more people back to work and bring children back to the classrooms, bluebird days and warm temperatures are inviting us to get out and enjoy summer. 

Mercifully, we are blessed with much to do that can be undertaken within social distancing guidelines. That makes it more compelling to venture out and enjoy yourself in a safe manner while shaking off some of the cobwebs that accompany the long stretch of physical distancing we have undertaken to address the first wave of the pandemic.

In this part of the country, we are rich with opportunities to get out and enjoy ourselves. There are adventures to be had, new areas to explore and many attractions that are operating, even if some are doing so under modified circumstances. 

With fewer tourists in the region, businesses are anxious to fill the gap. The hope is that Ontarians will take the opportunity to explore their own province and help keep some of our important small businesses afloat through the pandemic. That’s the message the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) is spreading as it seeks to drum up business for the province’s $36-billion tourism sector.

There’s little doubt that tourism has taken one of the biggest hits since March. With the American border closed and air travel still sorting itself out, the lack of visitors in the North is noticeable. That’s why the TIAO efforts make so much sense. If more of us can take ‘staycations’ while visiting our own areas, it increases the chances that many of our tourist businesses, especially mom and pop outfits, will be able to survive. So, if you’ve ever considered booking a cabin from an outfitter or checking out a provincial or a private campground park, now is the time.

On top of that, most summer markets are open despite physical distancing regulations. These can offer anything from fresh produce to unique hand-crafted products. As an added bonus, markets like these give us the perfect opportunity to buy local—an idea that I am receiving far more correspondence about than ever before. 

Restaurants with patios have been slowly reopening and many are still operating for delivery or pick-up. As more businesses start to re-open, there will be more to choose from and, hopefully, support.

An important consideration these days are travel restrictions. Some regions like Atlantic Canada are only open to a bubble of provinces. Ontario isn’t one of them and people trying to enter the Atlantic bubble may find themselves turned back at the New Brunswick border. That doesn’t apply in Ontario and residents are free to travel within the province to their heart’s delight.

While visiting your own backyard might not sound as sophisticated as an international vacation, the time spent learning more about your area is rewarding. Doing so allows you to travel down that road you always wondered about, learn more about your area’s history and culture and even offers the chance to make new acquaintances. 

Additionally, a local vacation requires less preparation and far less travel than some of the more glamorous-sounding options. It might save a few dollars too!

I hope you can find a fun adventure in your own area or throughout the province this summer. It remains important to be mindful of distancing and to maintain good hand hygiene, but we are doing that just to go shopping these days and the habit should be easily maintained wherever you go. I know that businesses will appreciate your effort, support and your patronage.