The executive director of Tourism Sarnia-Lambton (TSL) sees an opportunity on the horizon.
Mark Perrin said they currently share the Douglas G. Keddy building, on Venetian Boulevard, with the Ontario Travel Information Centre, but it's closing this month.
"A lot of the services they provide are really web and online based," said Perrin. "So that's a shift that Ontario travel centres have decided to make. But, as far as Tourism Sarnia-Lambton goes, we're happy just to continue with all of the things that we offer."
The site is owned by the Federal Bridge Corporation, which operates the Blue Water Bridge.
"I think when people can get off the bridge and visit, maybe it's a chance, instead of going further into Ontario we can direct them more to what's right here in Sarnia-Lambton."
Perrin admits the announcement is disappointing but thinks it could be a great space for something like a coffee shop to open in.
"If it's another tenant that can provide services to the hotels across the street and casino down the road, I think that's a great opportunity to keep people coming into our side of the building as well. Really, the more people that come in, hopefully we can show them everything Sarnia-Lambton has to offer and make sure they support our economy."
He said bridge traffic is back to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and they're looking forward to a great summer ahead.
"We still have a lease that is good for a couple more years, I think until 2025, and we're really happy with our location right off the bridge, right by the hotels," said Perrin. "It's a perfect spot for us."
In an email to Sarnia News Today, Destination Ontario Communications Director Lydia Devereaux said they'll vacate the space toward the end of the month.
"As Destination Ontario, looks to modernize Ontario Travel Information Service (OTIS) delivery channels and shift visitor services beyond the bricks and mortar, Destination Ontario will be allowing the Sarnia Ontario Travel Information Centre (OTIC) lease to naturally expire on April 30, 2023," said Devereaux. "The Sarnia OTIC will close to the public effective March 19, 2023."
Devereaux said one full-time and one part-time employee are impacted by the closure, but will continue to work within the Sarnia area.
"There will be no surplus staff as a result of changes in OTIS service delivery, the staff will continue to support other OTIS service delivery channels including 1-800-ONTARIO, email, roaming and virtual travel counselling to reach a wider audience. Leveraging OTIS staffing resources will also allow us to explore opportunities to partner and work more closely with Tourism Sarnia Lambton (TSL) in delivering a seamless service at the local and provincial level, such as expanded visitor information services at local festivals and events."