The Gananoque Inn was built in 1867 originally as a carriage factory and later converted into a bed and breakfast. Mukesh and Ashvina Patel became the owners of the waterfront inn five years ago and say business has never been so slow.
“Our business occupancy rate in the summer is almost 80 to 90 per cent but after the pandemic, last year the whole year was 22 per cent” says the owner Mukesh Patel.
Most of their business comes from upstate New Yorkers that travel across the border during the summer months.
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“We live in Thousand Islands, so lots of us people have cottages, and waterfronts, people come to stay with us, they come for lunch and dinner” says co-owner Ashvina Patel.
The Patels say the COVID-19 pandemic has their already limited staff working even harder to follow public health guidelines.
Ashvina explains, “Restaurant cleaning, door handles, everything needs to be sanitized so almost taking double time, so labour goes more.”
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Executive director of the Thousand Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce, Amy Kirkland, says that the Patels’ business is not the only one hit hard by the U.S.-Canada border closure. She says that all restaurants, bars, hotels and inns in the area are struggling to stay afloat.
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“It’s really sad right now because Canada doesn’t have a plan. As a marketing organization where 98 per cent of my business benefits from our American friends across the border, it doesn’t allow us to further prepare if you need PPE, and stuff like that, there’s just nothing guiding our businesses” says Kirkland.
The executive director also says that officials in Gananoque and the township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands have pivoted and have been targeting domestic travellers as their main tourist group as the Canadian and American governments have yet to unveil a plan for when non-essential travel will resume.
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