Community Futures North Central Develop says the recent tourism funding announcement from the federal government is fantastic news for northern Manitoba.
On Monday, Ottawa says it would provide funding for francophone communities and the tourism industry across the province, with C.F.N.C.D. receiving $150,000 to further develop the snowmobile industry in the north.
Laura Finlay, a community development officer with the economic development agency, says the funding is a boon for northern communities, as the tourism sector contributes significantly to economic growth in the north.
"There was a study done in 2014 by Travel Manitoba a few years ago about all the regions in the province to see how much money was coming in through tourism dollars. Just in northern Manitoba alone, there was over $28 million brought in by taxes."
"If you look at the spending by night for Manitoba visitors, so for example people from Winnipeg, they're spending an average of $184 per night when they're in northern Manitoba. For U.S. and other international visitors, that skyrockets and they're spending around $2000 per night. They're spending that money on everything from accommodations, food, and gasoline. A lot of money is being brought in from other areas into the region, and it really impacts communities in a great way."
She explains that the snowmobile project is based on a plan that was done by a summit that took place in Snow Lake in November 2018. Finlay goes on to say that the plan looked at all aspects of snowmobiling, including infrastructure, marketing, and product development. They also looked into ideas like hosting special events in the north, and hiring a part-time coordinator, adding that all these areas will get a boost in funding thanks to the government grant.
Finlay says C.F.N.C.D. is thinking long-term when it comes to its tourism project.
"The project time frame we're working with is about 18 months, so it's going to give us a year and a half to show that there is going to be quite an impact with what we're working on. However, with that being said, we're looking at this being sustainable, so these are projects that will bring in more partners and funding. That way, it's something that we can maintain and take care of for years to come after the 18 months, so that it becomes a well maintained industry in northern Manitoba."
She explains that this will also help boost middle class jobs, specifically in the hospitality sector, as jobs in hotels, restaurants, and gas stations will see the direct benefits of tourists coming into our community. Finlay adds that the stronger the economy is for tourism, the stronger that economy will be for northern Manitoba.
She goes on to say that the project will encompass multiple northern communities that are serviced by SnoMan Trails, which include The Pas, Flin Flon, and Thompson.
Overall, Finlay says she's happy that the federal government recognizes that tourism is a valuable asset in northern Manitoba, as it gives us an opportunity to showcase northern Manitoba in positive light.