President's Message

While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt in all sectors, the travel, tourism and hospitality industry was hit harder than most, and is sure to be amongst the last to fully recover.

Colin Ferguson, CEO & President

Prior to the pandemic, Manitoba’s tourism industry supported close to 21,000 direct and indirect jobs, and tourism wages and direct spending contributed $649 million in tax revenues to the economy, money that went to support critical public priorities such as health care and education. Manitoba welcomed 10.5 million visitors who spent $1.64 billion throughout the province in 2019, spending that was dispersed throughout the province, contributing to the development of regional communities.

Tourism is a crucial part of Manitoba’s economy, representing 2% of Manitoba’s economy if measured by GDP, and 3% if measured by jobs. Clearly, the province’s economy will not fully recover until the travel sector recovers.

Travel Manitoba’s focus during the pandemic has been on helping the industry recover, as it rebuilds from the devastating crisis. Throughout it all, Travel Manitoba continued to provide updates on the state of the tourism industry and our future plans. We communicated regularly and often with industry to understand their challenges, and kept up-to-date on provincial and federal financial relief programs in order to inform the industry and guide decision-making. Our travel trade team also kept Manitoba travel trade partners up to date on international markets, closures, traveller and resident sentiment, and tour operator feedback.

As we head into a new fiscal year, and the uncharted territory of an industry in recovery, we are confident that we have the roadmap to rebuild. The new Manitoba Tourism Strategy, led by a collaboration of the Manitoba Government, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and Travel Manitoba, has a target to grow visitor spending by 50% to reach $2.5 billion by 2030. The strategy outlines 27 initiatives to support the strategy’s goals to lead brand and market positioning, advance destination management, foster collaboration and build support for tourism.

While the effects of the pandemic will be long lasting, we can approach the future with optimism. We can view the setbacks of COVID-19 as a challenge, but also an opportunity to adjust our focus, clarify our priorities, and work together to rebuild better than before.

Colin Ferguson