Em’s Café in Coldwater was selected as one of 13 award recipients during the inaugural Bicycle Friendly Business Awards, held in conjunction with the Cycle Tourism Conference Canada hosted in Toronto on March 1st.
The awards were presented by Ontario By Bike, whose network of certified bicycle friendly tourism businesses is now 1,500 strong. The certification program has criteria that helps ensure cyclists are welcomed at businesses they choose to stop at whether it be as a cycle tourist, on a longer trip, or while biking closer to home. The Network is free for businesses to participate in and the information on the each location as well as cycling trails and road routes in the region is easily accessible online.
Cycle tourism is a growing sector within the tourism industry. In Ontario, cycling tourism is valued at over half a billion dollars each year. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, in 2016, cycling visitors in Ontario spent $517 million, much of which is being spent at local businesses such as accommodations, attractions, cafes and restaurants.
A growing number of businesses across the province are recognizing this increasingly lucrative tourist market and are taking steps to position themselves as ‘bicycle friendly’, providing the services and amenities that cater to cyclists.
“From opening day, we’ve strived to be a more than a café. We wanted to be a destination. A place where people can gather, feel welcomed and valued, take a break and reenergize. This is especially true for the many cyclists we meet each day. Whether a casual outing or a gruelling training ride, we hope Em’s continues to be a welcoming resting spot for everyone who rides,” states Dan Barber, co-owner of Em’s Cafe and award recipient for Best Bicycle Friendly Business in the Bruce Grey Simcoe tourism region.
Each of the 13 award recipients was invited to the conference to share their experience serving the cycle tourism market to over 150 industry professionals in attendance. They also had a chance to learn from an impressive line-up of international experts presenting their experience and best practises from around the world. Hosted by Ontario By Bike, a program of non-profit organization Transportation Options, representatives from top cycling destinations around the world including Germany, Italy, the United States and Australia joined speakers from across Canada and Ontario.
“It’s with great pleasure that we are able to recognize the award winners and showcase their commitment in serving this growing market at our recent conference. Cyclists appreciate the extra care and attention, and are increasingly choosing to spend their dollars at certified bicycle friendly businesses. The 13 winners are the best-of-the-best in terms of businesses who welcome cyclists and are also actively contributing to growing cycle tourism in their region.” states Louisa Mursell, Executive Director of Transportation Options.
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