Orillia and Lake Country has always been a hidden Ontario gem— a warm, inviting place with small-town charm and a gorgeous natural landscape that begs to be discovered and enjoyed.

And while some still see it as a hidden gem, this may be a misconception; tourism statistics show it’s one of the most popular vacation spots in central Ontario. Approximately six million annual visitors inject $650 million into the local economy here each year.

“It’s a year-round playground with incredible bike trails, ski resorts and outdoor activities,” said Catherine Pearson, owner of Quayle’s Brewery in the hills of Oro-Medonte, just outside Orillia.

“For anyone looking to invest in tourism, there is just so much opportunity here in the region.”

A recent study from CBRE Group, one of the world’s largest real estate and investment firms, backs up that sentiment.

The study revealed a wealth of opportunity for tourism investment in Orillia and Lake Country, located just an hour north of Toronto and 20 minutes south of Muskoka.

“There’s so much opportunity for growth,” said Wendy Timpano, general manager of Orillia Area Community Development Corp.

The CBRE study identified 10 key opportunities for tourism investment: a family entertainment centre, an indoor waterpark resort, a waterfront restaurant, an outdoor spa, fishing charters and retail, glamping facilities, agri-culinary and event catering, a boutique hotel, and water activities like kayak and paddleboard rentals.

Though the study supports a business case for all of these types of investment, the family entertainment centre, a waterfront restaurant and glamping facilities are identified as the top three opportunities.

“You can almost feel the energy,” said Luke Sedgwick, owner of Glen Oro Farm, which offers luxury camping. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of this growth.”

The CBRE study concludes the area could support a family entertainment centre up to a 24,000-square-foot facility with a capacity for 350 people, which might feature up to three party rooms, a restaurant and an indoor activity space.

As of now, there is no such facility in the area, but the Orillia and Lake Country community have identified it as a significant need and strong potential opportunity.

There is also a community desire for one or more waterfront restaurants that take advantage of the area’s stunning lakeshore views. This opportunity would be well-supported by local meat, fruit and vegetable producers, Timpano noted.

Glamping — also known as luxury camping — is already a successful part of the area’s outdoor adventure portfolio, with significant demand for more. Glamping mixes the comforts of home with a refined rustic experience, perfect for weekend getaways and extended vacations year-round.

“Orillia and Lake Country is ideally situated for that next business investment,” said Kris Puhvel, executive director of Orillia and Lake Country Tourism.

“We have the beauty, we have four-season experiences. We have the opportunities, and we have a team of experts waiting to assist. All within an hour’s drive of the GTA market. Why not invest here?”

Orillia and Lake Country, located on the shores of Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching (part of the Trent-Severn Waterway) is currently home to tourism operations such as Casino Rama, Horseshoe Resort, Fern Resort, Burls Creek, Mount St. Louis and more.

For more information about investing in Orillia and Lake Country, call 705-325-4903 x 106 or visit www.orillialakecountry.ca/invest/ 

Source: National Post