LUMSDEN, Sask. – There’s something different growing at Over the Hill Orchards.
“Unique fruits you don’t normally find in Saskatchewan like peaches, nectarines, prune plums,” said Dean Kreutzer, the orchard’s owner.
By making themselves stand out, tourists are flocking there. In the last few years, Kreutzer said the visitors have doubled.
“Just just two days ago we had a group from Wyoming come,” said Kreutzer. “They saw us on the internet.
“We’ve had people from California, New York. A lot of people from the (United) States.”
Saskatchewan is booming, and so too is its tourism industry, contributing $2 billion to the province every year.
“Obviously it’s because of the great publicity we’ve been getting,” said Tourism Saskatchewan CEO Pat Fiacco. “We’re a four season province.”
In 2011 alone, almost 12,000,000 visits were made to and within Saskatchewan. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), however, says those numbers could be even higher.
“Their significant concern is a lot of that is still very domestic based business, Canada business,” said David Goldstein, TIAC’s president and CEO. “Our real focus is on driving more international visitation to Canada.”
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan is hoping to say “Guten Tag” to more tourists. For the last year, Tourism Saskatchewan has been advertising in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The ranch experience that can be found in the province is something that intrigues visitors from those countries.
It is just a matter of getting them to come, but it is hard to do. A recent report from a senate committee showed layers of extra taxes, fees and levies are hurting Canada’s competitiveness when it comes to flying into the country.
“We have an aviation policy which has created a cost structure that has placed us 136th in the world on a competitiveness impact analysis,” explained Goldstein.
The tourism industry is lobbying the federal government to relax some of the extra taxes, hoping that opening the skies will open up the eyes of tourists.
“All of our destinations that we have, the hotel rooms, the cost of food and restaurants, we’re very competitive compared to the rest of the world,” said Fiacco.