'Plan your vacation at home': Tourism Sask. relying on residents to help local industry this year
REGINA -- The summer months are typically a busy time of year for travel, but because of both domestic and international restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a significant decrease in out of province travel in Saskatchewan.
To help make up for the revenue loss, Tourism Saskatchewan is encouraging residents to “staycation” this summer.
“A lot of tourism businesses have been very adversely affected by this. I wouldn’t think there’s any that have not been affected,” said Mary Taylor-Ash, CEO of Tourism Saskatchewan. “Hotels were very much affected and were dipping into single digit occupancy, which we had never seen before.”
She said the province’s outfitting sector has seen one of the biggest losses in revenue because of the border closure between Canada and the U.S.
“Our outfitting sector relies pretty much entirely on a U.S. market, so that’s $120 million annually and they’ve been pretty much shut down,” Taylor-Ash said.
She said approximately 700 events have been cancelled across the province this year so far, which often draw people in from other places.
About 300 of those events were scheduled for Regina.
“We’ve seen a loss of about $300 million in economic impact in the community,” said Kerri Michell, the chief brand officer for Economic Development Regina. “That’s really impacting the restaurants, the hotels, really anyone in the hospitality industry.”
She said for every dollar the city invests in an event, convention or trade show, it sees about a $63 return.
At the Regina International Airport, although travel is slowly increasing, it’s no where near normal for this time of year.
“On an average day here at the airport, we would see about 1700-1800 departing passengers. Right now, in the month of July, we’ve been seeing a couple hundred. So maybe 200,” said James Bogusz, CEO of the Regina Airport.
Bogusz said the lack of flyers impacts the amount of cars being rented from the airport, which has been low this season.
STAYCATION AT HOME
To help make up for some of the out-of-province revenue that won’t come in this year, Tourism Saskatchewan is encouraging residents to take advantage of what’s being offered locally.
“We are doing marketing very local, and encouraging people to get out and get around the province and support the tourism industry because it’s been a very difficult start to this year,” Taylor-Ash said.
She said Saskatchewan relies on its local tourism every year, and this year even more so. People have been starting to show more interest in getting out to visit local businesses and parks, which is what she said the industry needs.
“There’s a bit of a pent up demand and people do want to get out and do things this summer,” Taylor-Ash said. “I certainly encourage them to get around Saskatchewan, see things you haven’t seen before and plan your vacation at home.”