In October 2013, Travel Manitoba was preparing to unveil a new marketing brand. At the time, their President and CEO Colin Ferguson addressed the first year of the MBiz Breakfast Series touting the new brand, the opportunities that exist within the industry, and the need for sustained investment in tourism marketing dollars. What a difference four years makes.
On Tuesday, November 14, Ferguson, once again stood before an MBiz breakfast audience and shared how Travel Manitoba and the industry have transformed into a significant economic driver. It started with the new brand – “Manitoba: Canada’s Heart Beats” – and how, with the support of their partners, have helped take the message of Manitoba tourism to markets that were unthinkable four years ago. It continued with the successful advocacy and implementation of the 96/4 sustainable investment model. At the time, Manitoba’s tourism budget ranked dead last with our provinces and had not been increased in more than a decade. The plan required an initial investment from the government of just under 4 million dollars. For that modest investment, the government’s 2016 return on investment (ROI) resulted in a 10x incremental increase in tax revenue ($38 million in 2016). Revenues in 2017 are also forecast to increase $80 million over 2016 numbers to $1.78 billion.
While many would have been satisfied with the improvement, Travel Manitoba is not one of them. Over the course of his 25-minute speech, Ferguson shared a new round of commercials that will expand their popular brand. The increased marketing dollars, thanks to increasing funding under 96/4, will allow Travel Manitoba to market in more international destinations in the coming months, along with expanded TV and social media products to influence visitors already close to Manitoba. The crown corporation will continue to pursue and promote focused promotions on other tourism industry drivers, like our world-class hunting and fishing expeditions. Ferguson also talked of the healthy, fruitful, and continued relationship with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce as we work together on the development of a provincial tourism strategy.
As the presentation concluded, Ferguson provided one final number to underscore the work that drives Travel Manitoba. Despite the increases in marketing dollars, Manitoba still ranks last among our provincial counterparts but fifth on ROI. Manitoba, as Ferguson beamed, is punching well above our weight.