Bad tourism season? Depends on who you ask

Tourism businesses

WELLESLEY ISLAND, N.Y. (WWNY) - Many tourism-related businesses in the Thousand Islands had a bad 2020 season because of the pandemic, but it depends on who you ask.

Nearly half the businesses surveyed by the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council were disappointed, the worst response in the survey’s 22 years.

But some actually had good seasons.

“Wellesley Island Boat Rentals specifically had our best year on record so far,” said Vincent Donnelly, who owns the boat rental business.

“Best Year” and 2020 aren’t often said together, but that’s been the case for Donnelly. His boat rental business was flooded with customers throughout the summer months.

Outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, and camping brought in good business this year.

“I am so hopeful that people will remember us small town companies like Wellesley Island Boat Rentals because we saw more families from more walks of life than I’ve ever gotten to see,” he said.

Still, many businesses suffered. Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum lost two months of operating time due to shutdowns.

“We saw a decrease in visitation,” museum executive director Rebecca Hopfinger said. “It wasn’t quite 40 percent. Of course, it was much less than we would see and be able to do in a normal year, but all things considered it was a good season for us.”

The boat museum was able to mitigate losses by preparing a more conservative budget. Its executive director says now they’re focusing on small victories: the museum welcomed more than 1,000 visitors aboard the Miss Thousand Island’s Speed Boat this summer, a milestone they’re proud of.

“Considering everything we need to do to be open,” Hopfinger said, “we’re grateful that we could be open and be available to visitors.”

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