A representative of Winnipeg’s tourism sector said hotel occupancies are back to 2019 levels month over month, indicating the tourism industry is making a full recovery from disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the year of tourism,” said Natalie Thiesen, vice-president of tourism at Economic Development Winnipeg.
Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, Fringe Theatre Festival, Folk Fest and Folklorama have all come back to the city in full force, and the presence of the World Police & Fire Games is giving an additional boost to the economy, Thiesen said.
The vice-president added the city’s business calendar is also full until the end of the year.
“It’s great for downtown and the recovery of some of the hardest hit businesses and areas of the city,” she said.
Premier Heather Stefanson said the local economy is also getting a helping hand from local sports, including the addition of the Winnipeg’s Canadian Elite Basketball League team, the Sea Bears.
“Winnipeg has the best fans in the world,” the premier said.
Stefanson announced Thursday the provincial government is promising up to $1 million to support a bid for Winnipeg to host the 2025 CEBL championships. The team has posted record-breaking attendance numbers during their inaugural season.
Thiesen said Winnipeg, and Manitoba at large, are recovering faster in terms of tourism than the rest of Canada, giving locals a “renewed sense of pride.”
The vice-president estimates the rest of the year will be just as strong as the summer has been, in terms of tourism.
“Come experience Winnipeg and contribute to the local economy,” she said.
— with files from Teagan Rasche