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Muskoka tourism rebounds in a big way since pandemic

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Cottages in Muskoka are booking up fast, with business owners preparing for what's anticipated to be a significant increase in tourists and one of the busiest summers in years.

"I already know from our reservation numbers we're over double from what we did in 2019," said Jayne McCaw, owner of Jayne's Cottages Luxury Rentals in Port Carling.

McCaw said she's had to hire more than 100 staff to keep up with the influx of visitors, many of whom are travelling from outside the country.

"We see a lot of international guests who are hearing about us, coming to us for the first time," said Tina Swyer, director of operations with Jayne's Cottages.

McCaw aims to put Muskoka on the international map, noting that 25 per cent of her revenue is non-Canadians.

"We're really pushing international tourism. We are going to travel agents globally and talking about this new world luxury destination that is a secret find that nobody knows about, and it is really resonating," she added.

McCaw's business has over 300 properties, including lodges and resorts throughout Muskoka, Simcoe County and Haliburton.

"We've seen our best May to date in terms of bookings, and we're very optimistic that guests are going to book significantly more in June," Swyer said.

With tourism the number one driving factor in Muskoka, McCaw said it's important to keep pushing that growth for economic stability in the region.

"If we are able to extend the tourism season from just July and August to be able to put Muskoka on the map as a luxury destination and make it inspirational, people will want to come here any time of the year," she said, adding she is still hiring for the summer season.

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