CORNWALL – The cancellation of Lift-Off will be a big blow for the summer tourism industry in SD&G.
“It is something that will be felt in the community for sure. It’s not only a tourism part, it’s part of who we are as a community and how people from outside view us,” Cornwall and the Counties Tourism (CCT) Executive Director Linda Wilson tells Cornwall Newswatch.
Organizers announced yesterday (Tuesday) the four-day festival is taking a one year hiatus to reorganize and deal with fund raising, outstanding debt and sponsorships.
“It’s going to be missed although I do respect the organizers for taking heat and being responsible and I think they’ll be back hopefully next year even stronger,” Wilson says.
Lift-Off, which has been around since 1994, typically brings in roughly 50,000 to 55,000 spectators from Ontario, Quebec, northern New York and points beyond over the four day event.
“We’ve already had responses from outside the community saying ‘Oh, that’s a bummer. We always drive in to come and visit your city during Lift-Off.’ so we’re already getting people who are responding,” she says.
Wilson says they won’t know the full economic impact of the cancellation until after the originally scheduled date of July 9-12, 2015.
“The downtown core will probably feel the biggest impact only because the people would leave the park and then just walk down. The whole impact…it’s not just the park, it’s the retailers and the restaurants,” Wilson added.
A representative for the Cornwall Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) was contacted but no comment was given as of publication time.
Wilson doesn’t feel the one year hiatus will have a negative impact but could actually help the festival. “I think sometimes people don’t know what they’re missing until it’s not there…and when they come back bigger and better I think people will be excited about that.”
The tourism executive director also had a message for the community. “I really want people to respect the group and their decision. They are volunteers. It’s a very tough and big project to put together and when you’re dealing with weather and things that you can’t control sometimes things happen and I think the community needs to be strong for them and to support to all of the (fund raising) events they have.”