Manitoba’s tourism industry has much reason for optimism after the new legislative session was opened on November 16 with the annual Throne Speech. After many months of advocating for a sustainable funding model for tourism marketing and thanks to the influential support of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, Lieutenant-Governor Janice Filmon read the following statement:
“As called for by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to support Travel Manitoba, we will ramp up our investments in tourism to grow the industry.
We will increase our annual tourism expenditures to achieve the level of investment, as called for, while creating a sustainable funding model to boost tourism and market Manitoba to the world.”
The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Tourism Committee have been strong supporters of Travel Manitoba’s proposed sustainable funding model, dubbed Plan 96/4.
“To have this singled out in the Throne Speech as a top priority of the government is a step in the right direction,” said Manitoba Chambers of Commerce President and CEO Chuck Davidson in a release. “We presented an investment model that we believe is to the benefit of the entire tourism industry, the government and all Manitobans. The government has said they want to work with the industry stakeholders and this commitment sends the right message.”
The Plan proposes investment in tourism marketing calculated as a percentage of tourism taxes – 4% directed towards tourism marketing and 96% returning to the government. The government recognized the potential of this plan to benefit not only the tourism industry, but all Manitobans. As a performance based model, if tourism sales increase, then the government generates more taxes from tourism to support other priorities such as health care and education.
At the heart of our Plan 96/4 is that it has the potential to increase annual tourism expenditures, which in turn means an increase in new funding – $4 million in the first year alone. From the outset, Travel Manitoba has stated that 100% of incremental investment could go back into marketing.
During an announcement on November 23 calling for a Tourism Summit where industry leaders will be asked to provide input into a provincial tourism growth strategy, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Ron Lemieux said, “Infrastructure investment only goes so far. The advertising and promotion piece is essential.”
Expanding our marketing reach in Canada (Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec) along with the United States and other international markets such as China will be a priority. Other proposed investment opportunities will be presented to industry leaders at the Tourism Summit in January.
Investing in attractions, arts & culture
In addition to investing in tourism marketing, the Manitoba government has announced support for many key attractions and arts and culture organizations that will have a major impact on the success of our tourism industry.
The Manitoba government has shown their clear support of key tourism stakeholders, including:
- Winnipeg Art Gallery. In partnership with the government of Nunavut, the government will support the new Inuit Art Centre, which will house the world’s largest collection of Inuit art.
- Assiniboine Park Conservancy. New investment will support its next redevelopment project, Diversity Garden.
- Churchill. Continued promotion of this northern “tourism destination and gateway to the North” as well as investments in arctic science research facilities.
- Craft beer industry. Support for as many as ten new craft breweries making Manitoba a craft beer destination.
- Arts and culture. Additional funding for arts and culture along with the development of a new strategy to foster the growth of Manitoba’s creative industries.