Coronavirus and Tourism in Manitoba

April 3, 2020

Dear Industry Partners,
 

As we settle in to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, Travel Manitoba is well aware of the growing hardships facing our tourism industry. Throughout the course that this takes, we are committed to providing our industry with information and assistance, and in turn, we have asked for your help in completing our Manitoba COVID-19 Tourism Impact Survey. The survey results will help to provide us with a clear picture of the impact COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have, on Manitoba’s tourism industry. Thank you to all those who have completed the survey. Your input is vital.
 
We are heartened by the fact that the federal government has recognized the impact of the pandemic on businesses and their employees, and will be implementing assistance programs, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers and entrepreneurs who are not receiving a paycheque as a result of COVID-19; the Canada Emergency Business Account, which provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits through their financial institutions. Up to 25% of the loan will be forgiven if repaid by December 31, 2022; and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), to be applied at a rate of 75% on the first $58,700 earned by employees, representing a benefit of $847 per week. Details on these and other programs are available here.

It is important to note that to be eligible for the CERB, businesses must be registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.  Travel Manitoba will share details of these programs as they become available.


Strategy and Business Development
 
Travel Manitoba’s Strategy and Business Development division will be focusing on serving as a strong resource for the tourism industry. Some of our team will be taking on new responsibilities to gather research and assist industry.
 
In addition to developing the Tourism Impact Analysis, our team will be dedicated to: 

  • Clearly understanding all federal assistance programs and interpreting them in plain language for different types of businesses (hotels, restaurants, seasonal operations, etc). We will be reaching out to help industry members apply for these programs.
  • Understanding what other provinces are providing in terms of financial  support to their tourism industry to enhance the federal programs in order to advocate for provincial investment in specific areas with the province’s Economic Growth Committee of Cabinet.


Provincial Support
 
We would encourage you to support important initiatives of the provincial government, such as: 
 
NEW: Assist if possible in the province’s need to find hotels and modular housing to isolate Manitobans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province is looking for hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, modular housing and motels across Manitoba to provide accommodations for patients and other Manitobans affected by coronavirus or any other emergency during the pandemic. 
 
NEW:  Complying with Manitoba’s new regulations on the closure of non-critical businesses. Questions to answers about this regulation and how it applies to your business may be found here.

NEW: For employees requiring counselling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, encouraging them to take advantage of the province’s online counselling program.  
 
NEW: Being aware of the province’s temporary exception to employment standards layoff rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, should this apply to your business.
 
Help Next Door MB: A new online tool launched by the Manitoba government to connect people in the province willing to help with those who need it, allowing people to receive the goods and services they need such as groceries, medication, snow-clearing and various other necessities.  
 
Supporting, where possible, the province’s call on businesses to help supply such products as hand sanitizer, surgical/procedure masks and N-95 respirators, even if this is not your normal line of business;
 
Encouraging staff to pitch in and provide security, laundry, food, pet care and IT support services.
 
Encouraging your employees to adhere to stay-at-home and social distances practices.  
 

Business Preparedness and Marketing
 
Like many jurisdictions across the country, we are in the process of revising our business plan and planning in terms of three phases: 

  • Responding to industry and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
  • Planning for an initial recovery campaign that would encourage Manitobans and those in near short haul markets to travel and to visit. The timing of this will, of course, be determined by health officials as they deem appropriate. Travel Manitoba is currently focused on conveying a strong “Stay Home” message and has created a new microsite and video to convey this message.  As Travel Manitoba has paused any paid media campaigns, the video is being distributed only on our social media channels. Visit the site and watch the video here.
  • We plan to re-target international markets once travel restrictions have been removed and Canada has opened its borders.

There are certainly challenges ahead, but I’m confident that together we will surmount them and come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.  We’re here to help, we appreciate your help, and we look forward to working closely together in the days ahead.

Sincerely,

Colin Ferguson signature

Colin Ferguson
Travel Manitoba President & CEO