Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, promotes hometown tourism at the annual “staycation” expo at the Devonshire Mall, April 26, 2019.
Dax Melmer / Windsor Star
Let’s say you have some vacation time coming up. Maybe you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Perhaps you’ll consider an alternative travel destination: Just outside your doorstep.In what’s become an annual tradition, Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island is once again touting the benefits of a “staycation” — getaways, explorations, and adventures in your own city and region.“You become a hometown tourist,” said Gordon Orr, CEO of the tourism bureau.“Our biggest visitor market is out-of-town friends and relatives. What we want to do is educate locals on what assets we have, so that when people come here … they can venture out and realize we have a lot of different experiences to enjoy.”On Saturday, visitors to the Devonshire Mall can check out TWEPI’s “staycation” expo — displays and exhibits offering information about local tourism features.Tourism stakeholders have joined TWEPI in the expo at the mall every spring for the past seven years.“Each year has gotten bigger and better,” Orr said. “It’s an audience of 10,000 or so mall patrons.”According to Orr, locals often take for granted the tourism opportunities immediately around them. “There are people who live near the Niagara Falls, but they haven’t been to the Falls in years,” Orr explained.Three tourism aspects of Windsor-Essex that Orr feels have been overlooked or underrated:The network of beautiful award-winning winery estates in Essex County, which often hold culinary and music events during the summer. “There are trails and tour options,” Orr said. “You could go to some of them and have a picnic.” The new J.P. Wiser’s Brand Experience Centre, recently featured in the Boston Globe for its tours and tasting offers. “I think it’s important to note that it’s one of the largest distilleries in North America,” Orr said. “We have world-class whiskey here.” Point Pelee National Park — considered one of the best birding spots in Canada, and recent recipient of a $5.5 million makeover, including new observation tower. “By size and scope, it may not be the biggest national park. But it’s certainly one of the best attended,” Orr said. Coinciding with the “staycation” campaign is the launch of TWEPI’s Official Visitors Guide.Available in print and electronic formats, the 88-page booklet is an annual comprehensive roundup of local highlights in terms of dining, sightseeing, recreation, activities, and accommodations.Orr said he’s pleased with the new guide’s “high impact imagery” and “blog-style content,” and hopes it will bring attention to WIndsor-Essex experiences that even locals might not know about.For example: Did you know the Best Western Plus in Leamington has an indoor water park and three-story indoor play area?Did you know you can take a paddle boarding class at sunset on Lake St. Clair through Tecumseh’s Urban Surf Company?Did you know TWEPI’s own Barrels, Bottles & Brews Trail will take you to 10 local craft breweries and a craft distillery?Pick up your copy of the Official Visitors Guide at the “staycation” expo, or download it at visitwindsoressex.com.Related