Coffee and Connection | Championing Tourism is Good Business for Manitoba

Oct 30, 2023 | Chamber News, Events, Front Page, MBiz Breakfasts, Tourism, Arts & Culture

Tourism in Manitoba is gaining momentum. The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce was pleased to host an insightful panel discussion on the state of the tourism industry in Manitoba that highlighted the potential for significant growth in the industry, with expectations that tourism spending could reach $2.5 billion by 2030. The event featured key industry leaders who shared their valuable insights and observations. Here’s a summary of the takeaways:

Colin Ferguson, President and CEO of Travel Manitoba, underscored Manitoba’s remarkable performance in the tourism sector. In 2022, the province recorded a total expenditure of $1.8 billion by tourists, resulting in $400 million in tax revenues for the region. It’s worth noting that this return on investment was achieved with relatively limited provincial grants, which fell short by nearly $6 million compared to Saskatchewan’s tourism funding. Despite the local tourism spending meeting exceeding pre-pandemic values, visitations to the province are still lower than in past years and additional funding would allow Travel Manitoba to grow the number of visitors.

Karly McRae, Owner and Managing Partner of Lakehouse Properties, delved into the future prospects for the industry. She emphasized the need to create authentic and unique experiences that resonate with modern travelers seeking meaningful adventures. Karly also highlighted the ongoing challenge of a labor shortage, partially attributed to difficulties prospective employees encounter in finding suitable housing. She also noted that it will be important to shift perceptions that the tourism industry can be a rewarding career.

Holly Courchene, CEO of Indigenous Tourism Manitoba, shed light on the recent surge in Indigenous tourism operators and the potential for a remarkable 300% growth in this sector. She stressed the need for resources to facilitate connections between these operators and the broader travel industry. Establishing valuable relationships with tour operators, travel agencies, and other avenues for reaching new customers remains an area for growth for operators of Indigenous tourism experiences.

Nick Hays, President and CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority, provided an optimistic outlook for the airport industry. He declared that “travel is back” with an annual passenger volume of 4 million, only slightly below the pre-pandemic figure of 4.5 million. Notably, business travel now constitutes a larger proportion of overall travel compared to 2019. However, Nick also pointed out that some pandemic-related challenges persist, such as the pilot shortage, which must be addressed before direct routes to Chicago and Denver can be reinstated. Getting these routes back is critical to provide convenient transportation for US anglers to visit our province.

Manitoba’s significant returns on tourism investment and the potential for growth in Indigenous tourism operators are particularly noteworthy. Addressing challenges, such as labor and pilot shortages, will be crucial to further enhancing the industry in the province. However, we know tourism in Manitoba is in good hands.


A very special thank you to our event sponsors, without whom we could not deliver such high-quality events to the Manitoba business community.

MBiz Breakfast Series Presenting Sponsor – 6P Marketing

Event Sponsors – Manitoba Hotel Association & Workplace Education Manitoba

Series Supporters – CPHR Manitoba & Travel Manitoba

Media Partner – Winnipeg Free Press


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