Port Stanley, Ont. businesses rebound after slow season start as tourists flock to beach towns on Labour Day weekend

Great weather, and school just two days away sent thousands to Port Stanley, Ont. Labour Day weekend.

"I can swim, and dig in the sand, and just have fun," says Raddin Sands, 8, who was visiting the beach from London, Ont.

Sands was enjoying the sand with his family.

"Due to pandemic last year we couldn't take advantage of the beach," says Reza Sands, Raddin's father.

"I thought we'd take advantage of the last weekend of summer before starting school.”

A few feet away, a church group from London formed a large circle near the water.

"We're here to fellowship with each other and enjoy each other's company and get to know each other," says Sherri Foster, a member of London Christian Fellowship International.

In the heart of the village, there was plenty of foot traffic.

"It's making up for lost time," says Melissa Van Ymeren, owner of Lady Savannah Fashion Boutique.

With businesses forced to remain curbside for the beginning of the season, and the bridge not opening until late June, it's been an up and down year. But great weather in August provided a nice rebound.

"We're having tourists coming back now," says Van Ymeren, a member of the Port Stanley Business Improvement Association.

"Now people are able to fly, and people are coming from out in the west coast. Tourists are more plentiful in Port Stanley.”

Even though summer doesn't officially end until Sept. 21, this is realistically the last weekend of the season to capitalize.

"As of Tuesday, no matter the weather, there won't be a fraction of the number of people on the beach," says Andy Gates, owner of GT's on the Beach.

GT's will remain open until Sept. 26, but missed out some great weather due to the province's dining restrictions in April and May.

"That's a full five weeks behind where we would have normally open, and so those are sales that can never be recaptured," says Gates.

"Once we were open and because we are all patio, we've been lucky, and we've been busy. We're all a little bit tired but that's better than the alternative.”