Whether it was reading, gardening, or taking in a new part of the province, Manitobans seem to have made the best of a summer like no other.
With cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise here at home and around the world, summer vacation plans changed quickly for many in Manitoba as borders between provinces and into the U.S. closed and public health orders put restrictions on businesses.
“It’s been different and it’s been very challenging,” Travel Manitoba president and CEO Colin Ferguson said of the sudden changes brought on by the pandemic.
“When COVID was first announced in March we were obviously, like everybody, very concerned about what that was going to mean.”
Ferguson tells Global News the resulting closure of international borders has wreaked havoc for businesses in Manitoba that rely on seasonal visits from Americans and Europeans, like fly-in fishing camps and attractions in Churchill.
But Ferguson said Mantiobans have picked up some of the business lost to a lack of international travellers this summer.
It’s something Travel Manitoba had hoped to see after launching a hyper-local travel campaign aimed at those living in the Keystone province.
The $2-million “Home Is Where The Heart Is” campaign included series of videos featuring actual Manitobans as they become ambassadors for the province’s destinations and experiences.
The videos were complemented with a print, digital, radio, outdoor and social media campaign.
“There’s a lot to do here — so Winnipeggers and Manitobans are getting out and they’re experiencing it,” Ferguson said.
“The campgrounds, the parks, the golf courses are seeing huge increases in rounds played — places like Hecla, Clear Lake, Whiteshell, we are hearing things like best June, July and August ever.
“We know Manitobans are getting out and exploring.”
‘It was nice to have that time’
Winnipegger Charles Carron tells Global News he had a pretty busy summer, heading out hiking and camping right here in Manitoba.
“Definitely got a chance to get outside, do some hiking, I like to be outdoors as much as possible — I’ve got some friends that like to go hiking — so I took advantage of that,” he said.
Lorand Bashushki, on the other hand, said he had a great summer without leaving his backyard very often.
“I planted a garden for the first time in my life — put a whole bunch of flowers out on my front… and the garden’s in the back and I got a whole bunch of flowers inside the house too,” he said.
Bashushki, who normally would have been working at IG Field if the CFL season hadn’t been cancelled, said he did venture out once this summer.
“We went to Kenora for about three hours for supper and came back… that’s about it,” he said with a laugh.
“Usually in the summer I would like to go somewhere like for real. Kenora was it this year.”
The change of pace brought on by the pandemic this summer was welcomed by Patrick Harney, who said he stayed in the city for the whole summer.
“I usually go away most summers and try and do something but it was nice to have a change from that sort of summer pressure of getting out, seeing people — I just had time for myself,” Harney tells Global News.
“It was nice to have that time – I spent a lot of time reading books, reading books I never would’ve read over the summer.”
At Travel Manitoba, Ferguson says he’s hopeful Manitobans remember there’s a lot of things to do right here at home, once the pandemic is over.
“I think Manitobans, they’re looking for something and they’re either going to go out and rediscover places they haven’t been to… for many, many years, a long time — or they’re going to places they’ve never been to,” he said.
“I think this is going to be good to the long term — I think Winnipeggers and Manitobans are going to realize ‘there’s a lot to do in this province.”
— With files from Erik Pindera
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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