The ribbon has been cut – the Travel Manitoba Visitor Information Centre was official opened on October 15. More than 100 members of Manitoba’s tourism industry joined media, Premier Greg Selinger, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Ron Lemieux, The Forks’ Paul Jordan and Travel Manitoba’s Colin Ferguson and Bob Sparrow for the opening.
“Tourism is a future growth industry because we’ve invested in assets,” Premier Selinger told the crowd of about 100 assembled in the new space. “We want this to be a hub of information and engagement where visitors can create their own opportunities to navigate through the province.”
The Premier was referring to the immersive technology of the new Visitor Information Centre, which includes a green screen where visitors can put themselves in some of Manitoba’s most iconic experiences and an interactive trip planning tool that allows visitors to email or print their custom travel plan.
“This new Visitor Information Centre is the physical embodiment of our Manitoba, Canada’s Heart…Beats brand,” said Colin Ferguson, Travel Manitoba’s President and CEO. “With the centre’s digital features, we can showcase – not only Manitoba’s iconic experiences such as polar bear and beluga whale watching, Winnipeg as a cultural oasis, world class fishing and hunting – but all Manitoba attractions, large and small, that together represent the varied and unique fabric of Manitoba.”
“The Forks has gone from zero energy to lots of energy,” said Paul Jordan, CEO of The Forks North Portage Partnership, referring to the addition of many onsite partners fuelling its growth. “It’s exciting to watch our first partners doing it again with Travel Manitoba and its energized new building. Collectively we’re looking forward to partnering with Travel Manitoba to help them tell the important stories, not only of The Forks, but all of Manitoba.”
The project was a partnership between Travel Manitoba, The Forks and the Government of Manitoba, with The Forks acquiring the building and leasing the space back to Travel Manitoba.
Onsite, Travel Manitoba continues its partnership with Parks Canada, who will have year-round staff serving visitors along with Travel Manitoba Travel Counsellors.
“Parks Canada has the incredible opportunity to have staff work in the visitor centre alongside Travel Manitoba to help connect people with our parks and sites in Manitoba in a more personal way,” said Marilyn Peckett, Manitoba Field Unit Superintendent for Parks Canada. “By now being present year-round in the centre, we’re able to engage with visitors to raise awareness and stimulate their interest, while providing information and answering questions. This is truly a terrific way to encourage everyone to visit Parks Canada places in our province.”
“The collaborative spirit of the project extends to the industry who drive the content in the centre and the visitor experiences that make Manitoba such a special place,” said Minister Lemieux.
The content of the interactive trip planner – dubbed the Heart Wall – is sourced from industry provided text and images. Industry partners at the opening event got a chance to experience the centre’s features, remarking on the Heart Wall’s ease of use and ability to meet the needs of both visitors and industry.
Since opening its doors less than a month ago, the Visitor Information Centre has welcomed over 3,700 people including more than 500 visitors for travel counselling sessions on Manitoba’s tourism experiences.