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.
While news of surging coronavirus case counts circulates throughout Canada, optimism for the future of Manitoba’s tourism industry may feel out of reach. It’s clearer than ever the effects of the pandemic will be long lasting. Even with the recent setbacks of COVID-19, we can be optimistic if we maintain focus on working together to move the industry forward on the road to recovery.
Throughout the pandemic, Travel Manitoba has communicated regularly with industry to understand the challenges our partners are facing and continues to use this knowledge to advocate for and secure relief funding on behalf of industry partners. We also helped to mitigate industry losses by developing toolkits to guide our partners on how to access funding support and restore safe services.
Last year, Travel Manitoba unveiled a new roadmap for the future of the industry—the Manitoba Tourism Strategy, in collaboration with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and the Government of Manitoba. The strategy has a target to grow visitor spending by 50 per cent to reach $2.5 billion by 2030.
Amidst new uncertainty, achieving this target and reviving our industry continues to be Travel Manitoba’s focus. To this end, we recently announced a one-time funding opportunity, the Tourism Innovation and Recovery Fund, to help new and existing tourism operators recover or scale-up their offerings for 2022.
Looking ahead, Destination Canada predicts travel and tourism will become more local and domestic with a focus on leisure travel. Competition for travellers will increase among destinations, digitalized society will force new adaptations and—due to the pandemic—the travel and tourism industry will and must continuously evolve.
Stronger than these waves of uncertainty and change is Manitobans’ pride for home. Over the last two years, robust local tourism has helped the industry weather the most devastating impacts of COVID-19. Because of vigorous local travel, Manitoba’s tourism economy has been resilient, with fewer losses in overall travel visitation than most other provinces. Our resiliency at the national level is due in part to less dependence on international tourism; however, this excludes Churchill and fly-in fishing and hunting camps that rely heavily on international travellers and continue to suffer losses due to travel restrictions.
Key to the recovery of our industry and economy is Manitobans’ desire to be a traveller in their own province. While we continue to face the uncharted territory of an industry in recovery, and at the same time adapt to the public health context, we can and should be optimistic. We have plenty to be proud of in Manitoba—wide-open spaces, breathtaking landscapes and deep cultural roots—all right here.
When it is safe to do so, get out and go further in your discovery of Manitoba. Exploring at home will strengthen our efforts to recover and thrive once again.