About 150 industry members convened on June 19 to consider the pivotal developments taking place in tourism at the local, provincial and national levels.
The occasion was the Tourism Association of Canada’s Town Hall and the Manitoba Tourism Rally, a full day of discussion presented by Travel Manitoba, Tourism Winnipeg, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) and Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC).
The crowd heard that there are many good reasons to be optimistic about the future of the sector:
- Canada has climbed to the top of FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index on the strength of the “Canada. Keep Exploring” creative theme.
- Manitoba’s slate of world-class attractions is burgeoning.
- The worldwide travel industry is growing by 5% a years, making it one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy.
- U.S. arrivals in Canada have reached their highest level ever.
- International arrivals to Canada are expected to grow by 2.8% this year.
However, they also heard that there are big challenges ahead as our competitors ramp up to capture a larger share of the worldwide tourism market.
The morning Town Hall session focused on national efforts to market Canada to the world, while the afternoon concentrated on developments closer to home. Presenters provided a wide range of information and inspiration to get ideas percolating:
- CTC recapped its latest successes and directions in the international marketplace.
- TIAC urged a return to investment in the U.S. market and provided compelling evidence of tourism’s importance to the Canadian economy.
- Acclaimed marketing expert David Meerman Scott shared tips for making effective use of social media.
- The Assiniboine Park Conservancy and Canadian Museum for Human Rights provided their latest marketing and programming news.
- BOLD ideas for the industry were shared in an open-mic session.
Radio personality Ace Burpee was on hand as MC to keep the program moving along at a brisk pace.
“The best thing I see for our business today is that people in the industry are working together,” said Tricia Schers, Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Media for Frontiers North Adventures, when asked to describe the value of the day. “As a small company we are an eye dropper in the ocean when we try to do something on our own. That coordination, being part of a unified voice, is really vital to a company like ours.”
The event was also an opportunity to publicly thank the new Invest in Tourism Partners that are extending the reach of Travel Manitoba’s international marketing campaign. The contributions of these corporate sponsors are making it possible to reinforce the new Canada’s Heart Beats brand with highly effective in-flight advertising. In a series videos played throughout the day, the sponsors explained how and why they are supporting this new program.
“Although some of them may not see themselves as being in the tourism industry, they understand why a strong travel sector is important to their business,” said Colin Ferguson, President and CEO of Travel Manitoba.
The 10 Invest in Manitoba partners are Scotiabank, the Johnston Group, JR Richardson and Sons, Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg Airports Authority, Air Canada, McKim, VIA Rail, CalmAir and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. Every dollar they contribute is matched by the Manitoba government.
“I applaud everyone who takes up the challenge of moving the province’s tourism industry forward,” said Ron Lemieux, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection, as he brought greetings to the event. “It’s great to see this kind of enthusiasm.”