The Great Weed North? Pot Tourism Expected to Increase Visitation, but Many Questions Remain

With recreational-use cannabis on track to be legalized across Canada in 2018, some areas of the country expect to see a rise in the number of international visitors. The coffee shops of the Netherlands have long drawn tourists to the country, and more recently the legalization of cannabis in Colorado has boosted tourism and created jobs. Some regions of Canada, such as Niagara Falls and Windsor, Ontario, are predicting an influx of American visitors. Others may see limited tourism growth, particularly those that border a state where cannabis is already legalized, but local spending at bars and eateries could see an increase.

From entrepreneurs to big business, many are awaiting final legislation to determine whether there is opportunity to tap into this new market. The main question: where cannabis can be consumed. This will establish whether pot cafés and lounges can open and under what conditions. Hotels and restaurants will need clarity on whether edibles can be consumed on site and whether owners can designate some rooms or areas, such as patios, for smoking or vaping. Recreational areas and campgrounds will also need to know what’s legal. Tour companies will need guidelines on offering tours to cannabis plants, just like breweries or wineries. The potential for investment in tourism and hospitality jobs is huge, but will remain on hold for now.

Until more is known, established tourism and hospitality businesses’ best investment will be training staff to handle guests under the influence, much as they do with responsible alcohol service.

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