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Snowmobile tourism drives Bancroft’s winter economy

Some Bancroft tourism businesses may be seeing revenues return to normal now after two COVID winters – and the snowmobile community is helping with that. 

That message comes from a Bancroft business owner who’s seeing his restaurant packed with customers arriving on sled almost daily.

The Granite’s Brendon Clark says business started getting more normal last February, when Omicron began to wane. And strong sales have continued this winter.

“Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays have been great so far,” he says. “There’s probably 85 seats in here and there’s known to be a 15-minute wait at the door. It’s pretty packed. But sledders are really good at coming in, ordering and getting back on the trail, so it’s usually a (quick) turnover.”

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Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs CEO Ryan Eickmeier was not surprised to hear The Grantine is busy. 

He said businesses here rely heavily on snowmobile-tourism to get through winter. 

An OFSC report from 2019  says the industry leads to about $73 million in spending each year in OFSC’s District 6, which includes Bancroft. It also says the snowmobile industry leads to more than 500 jobs. 

Eickmeier  says the sale of permits to ride on OFSC’s provincial network of trails  is up slightly this year. That follows a trend that actually started during the height of the pandemic. This growth will help tourism towns that rely heavily on revenue from snowmobilers. 

“The old joke that snowmobilers travel with town things, their sled and their wallet, is true,” he said.

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