Since the City of Thompson is staring down significant mining cutbacks in 2018, local government officials are constantly looking to dig up alternative methods of stimulating the economy.
Northern Manitoba’s potential to attract tourists and adventure seekers is usually brought up during these conversations, which is why Thompson city council hosted Travel Manitoba representative Al McLauchlan during their Feb. 12 regular meeting.
McLauchlan was hired by Travel Manitoba in December 2017 to roll out their new Northern Manitoba Tourism Strategy, which outlines how municipalities like Thompson can maximize their potential as a top-quality Manitoba travel destination.
According to this research, McLauchlan said that most tourists view Northern Manitoba as a place to experience the vast wilderness and all the outdoor activities that comes with it.
“They want to see wildlife, they want to see beaches, they want to see historic sites and buildings, view northern lights, and visit parks,” he said. “And when you think about it, what you’re doing up here in Thompson, you’ve got lots of that.”
If fact, Thompson does hold an advantage over other similarly northern communities. Not only does it have the most hotel rooms in the region, but the city also boasts the largest number of Travel Manitoba sanctioned Star Attractions, which include Pisew Falls, the Heritage North Museum and the Spirit Way walking pathway.
As such, McLauchlan said that the province sees a lot of potential in the tourism sector and is really looking to ramp up its marketing involvement in this sphere.
“Tourism brings in more money than the sale of wheat does to the province, so we really need to think [about] tourism again.”
Now that the province is looking to increase tourism-generated revenues from $116 million in 2014 to between $132 and $151 million annually by March 2022, McLauchlan said Thompson can help them reach that goal by making little tweaks to its own tourism strategy, like taking advantage of Travel Manitoba’s free events page on their website.
“We have hundreds of thousands of people that go on our website every day, looking for things to do,” said McLauchlan. “They’re coming to Thompson, they’re coming to The Pas, they’re coming to Flin Flon, and they want to know what they can do when they get here.”
Outside of all the other tips outlined in the Northern Manitoba Tourism Strategy, deputy mayor Colleen Smook said part of this marketing effort comes down to individual interactions between locals and tourists.
“When my guests come to Thompson to stay at McCreedy Campground, it is the Safeway workers, the Walmart workers, the gas station attendants where they find out all the different things to do in Thompson and we just have to enhance that.”
Mayor Dennis Fenske also mentioned how the city plans to invest at least $400,000 in the newly incorporated Thompson Hotel Association by the end of 2018, which is a non-profit organization that aims to “enhance the tourism initiative and experience in Thompson” by increasing hotel stays and creating additional revenue for local businesses.
To read Travel Manitoba’s new Northern Manitoba Tourism Strategy in full, please visit the tourism section of the provincial government’s website.