Summer staycation: How Saskatchewan is faring for provincial tourism

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WATCH: While provincial parks are busy enough to maintain the volume of pre-pandemic visitors, Tourism Saskatchewan says some parts of the industry are still struggling.

From lake shores to sand dunes, there’s a lot to explore in Saskatchewan.

On the stat holiday of the August long weekend, which the province celebrates as Saskatchewan Day, most families stayed close to home.

“I haven’t been to Regina very often,” said Genre Sanfuego, who visited Wascana Park in the capital city Monday. “I love how there’s a garden and this water part. It’s very calming.”

While people are allowed to travel outside the province, the government of Saskatchewan recommends limiting inter-provincial travel, if possible, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Read more: What to watch for while wandering Regina’s Wascana Park this summer

Jonathan Potts, the executive director of marketing and communications for Tourism Saskatchewan, told Global News the local focus is good for some, but still tough for others.

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“For places like hotels and a lot of the attractions and restaurants and so forth, it’s been a really tough year,” Potts said. “We’re still encouraging people to get out there and support those businesses any way they can.”

Potts noted that tourism accounts for around $2 billion in visitor spending each year.

“It’s in every community,” he said. “It could be an outfitting camp up north, it could be hotels and restaurants downtown in a city like Regina. It could be outdoor adventure in a provincial park. It’s right through our province.”

Potts said the industry typically employs around 70,000 people, from seasonal to full-time workers. Currently, that number is down around 30 per cent.

But there are some encouraging signs, Potts said, as event organizers get creative with drive-in and distanced events.

He pointed to the upcoming KrugoFest in downtown Regina. Based on a vertical concert model, artists perform on a rooftop adjacent to a hotel with balcony views for fans to watch from.

Read more: Coronavirus: Summer shaping up to be busy at Saskatchewan provincial parks

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Those attending KrugoFest get a one-night stay, a concert and a choice of food from local restaurants. Proceeds are going to benefit the Regina Food Bank.

“That’s an amazing opportunity for people to show they care. Not just to support local businesses, but also to support local charities in this time of need,” Potts said.

He added that certain kinds of tourism, such as camping, is doing very well with the Saskatchewan staycation crowd.

Saskatchewan Provincial Parks told Global News that even with the 50 per cent capacity limits in May and June, “the number of reservations overall shows to be nearly at par with previous years.”

New this year, campsites are available in all Saskatchewan Provincial Parks until the end of September. Reservations are still available for the fall.