Ottawa

Kingston hopeful for pot tourists from U.S.

Tourism officials in Kingston, Ont., are hoping the opening of legal cannabis stores could lead to a rise in American visitors.

Tourism Kingston would like to market the area as a cannabis corridor

The chair of Kingston's tourism group is hoping that legal cannabis stores could bring more visitors from the U.S. to the eastern Ontario city. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

Tourism officials in Kingston, Ont., are hoping the opening of legal cannabis stores could lead to a rise in American visitors.

Bill Durnford, chair of Tourism Kingston, told Ontario Morning Monday that the local tourism industry doesn't know exactly what to expect now that there are legal storefronts selling cannabis in the city.

"But we anticipate it is going to cause some excitement and interest, especially in those south of the border," Durnford said.

The first legal store in downtown Kingston opened Monday, and Durnford said the hospitality industry is already wondering what this will mean as the busy summer season approaches.

Durnford said he sees a future where visitors can both purchase cannabis and visit nearby facilities like those in Smiths Falls, Ont., to see where it's produced.

"In due course, I think producers like Canopy Growth will look to capitalize on opportunities like that," Durnford said.

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Council hasn't committed

Despite that optimism, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said there are no official plans to push cannabis tourism at the municipal level.

"I'm sure there will be interest in cannabis as brick-and-mortar stores open across the province and here in Kingston," Paterson said in a statement.

"However, council has not specifically discussed cannabis from a tourism perspective."

The model many want to mimic is the success of Ontario wineries, particularly those in nearby Prince Edward County, which have become major tourism draws.

The law currently prevents licensed producers from selling or sampling their product where it is grown.

Durnford said talks with the province to alter those rules have already begun, although changes are likely years away.

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