European self-driven cruise boat company, Le Boat, has confirmed the opening of its first North American headquarters in Smiths Falls, Ontario.
The possibility of Le Boat coming to the Rideau Canal was announced in December 2016. Since then, various lease agreements have been finalized and Le Boat has been able to connect with local operators and suppliers. “For surrounding communities this is great news,” says Warden of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Robin Jones. “There’s an excitement amongst the Rideau mayors. We have been working together to support investment opportunities that can benefit our communities and the entire corridor.” Robin says the $16 million investment being made by Le Boat is a great result of their hard work. “Guests will be cruising the canal and stopping in our communities to shop, indulge in our local foods and restaurants plus discover our trails, museums and wineries,” she says.
Mayor David Nash has been a proponent of Le Boat from the beginning and he is looking forward to what this could mean for tourism in Merrickville-Wolford. “This is a tremendous economic development coup that I am very excited about,” he says. “The next step is to identify the necessary preparatory work to ensure we are positioned to effectively market our services and provide a positive experience to our international visitors.”
Economic Development Manager of Leeds and Grenville, Ann Weir, says they are expecting guests from Germany, Switzerland, UK, France, US, Canada, Belgium and Austria to be arriving to take in the beauty of the Rideau Canal as of May, 2018.
Over the next few months, Le Boat officials will be returning to the region to continue developing their marketing materials and to build their team in preparation for the 2018 boating season. “This is a great opportunity for local businesses to work with Le Boat,” says Robin. “As we are fast approaching the busy tourism season, we need to continually improve our customer service and be ready to greet Le Boaters. Businesses should consider how they will make new and returning guest visits the best experience.”
Ann will be at the Teeny Tiny Summit to be held in Merrickville on June 28 to talk more about Le Boat and how the communities and businesses along the Rideau Canal can put their best foot forward and benefit from this opportunity.