REGINA – The section which covers Saskatchewan in the Lonely Planet Guide on Canada is only 16 pages out of 1000.
“I think it’s slim,” said Benedict Walker. The freelance travel writer wants to see the entries doubled. He’s been assigned to update our province in the guide’s 12th edition.
“Saskatchewan really, for overseas visitors isn’t a prime destination. People will come to Canada and they’ll go to BC and they’ll go to Toronto, maybe Quebec,” said Walker.
But that doesn’t mean they should pass us over. Walker has already added two new Saskatchewan communities to the guide – Gravelbourg and Swift Current, so far. That will come in handy for the increased number of tourists who are visiting the province these days.
“We’re at nine million visits per year, said the director of marketing at Tourism Saskatchewan.
“We also had roughly $2 billion in visitor spending in 2012.”
With 85 percent of the visitors from within the province and neighbouring Alberta, that’s an increase of between 13 and 14 percent in the past seven years – and counting.
“With all the events we have this year and hopefully with some good weather, this should be a record breaking year for Saskatchewan,” said Potts of the 2013 tourism season.
Tourism Saskatchewan also expects to increase the number of outside visitors with some operators gaining national exposure.
“You know when a kid gets an ice cream cone and they’re waiting there in line…and they’re so excited and they kind of do a little jig?” said Jori Kirk, president and CEO of Cypress Hills Eco-Adventures of his goal to help every visitor to his zip line canopy tour and treetop adventure park find their “happy dance.”
Readers Digest recently named their “zip and sip” tour – in partnership with the Cypress Hills Winery – one of the top 10 May Long celebrations in Canada. It combines soaring over lodge pole pine canopy with a local wine tasting tour.
“Although it’s a really different experience and it doesn’t fall into the stereotypical things you would see in Saskatchewan, we still have a very authentic Saskatchewan experience,” said Kirk.
Walker knows exactly what he means.
“Every single person I’ve spoken to in whatever capacity, whether it’s been at a fuel stop or whatever, has been really friendly, which is something living in Toronto, I’m not used to anymore,” he said.