This week I’m very pleased to share that the Kingston Pen tours will be back in 2018! The last two years have been among the best years for tourism in our city’s history, and there’s no question that the Kingston Penitentiary tours have been a key driver of this success. This year KP welcomed over 100,000 visitors, up from 60,000 visitors in 2016. People have come from across the province and around the world and once here, visitors have the chance to experience all of the other great attractions and experiences that Kingston has to offer.
The impact to our local economy has been tremendous and I’m thrilled that we can continue this momentum into 2018. Another exciting benefit from the tours is the amount of money raised to support youth employment programs and to help youth facing homelessness or mental health challenges. Half of the net revenues from the KP tours are going to the United Way again this year – an estimated $1.5 million to support youth in Kingston. I also cannot say enough about Correctional Services Canada and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, two tremendous organizations that helped make these tours a reality.
The success of these tours has clearly shown the long term tourism potential for the Kingston Penitentiary property. Recently, this incredible potential was formally recognized by council. Council approved a vision for the redevelopment of the site which calls for much of the existing property to be preserved in a way that will allow for tours of Kingston Pen to continue into the future. I’m looking forward to welcoming many more visitors to Kingston for many years to come!