The Government of Saskatchewan has proclaimed May 23-29 as Saskatchewan Tourism Week.
The week, which coincides with the national celebration of Tourism Week in Canada, will be a time to inspire Saskatchewan residents to make nearby discoveries, support local businesses and model safe practices to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
At the same time, Saskatchewan Tourism Week is an opportunity to communicate the importance of planning for industry recovery, building a resilient tourism sector and preparing for the return of visitors.
Pre-pandemic, tourism spending in Saskatchewan reached $2.17 billion in 2019. There were 11.82 million visits made to and within the province that year. Tourism-related employment hit 71,100, making up 12 per cent of Saskatchewan's total labour force.
Estimates for 2020 show that spending dropped to $1.17 billion and the province saw 7.07 million visits to and within its borders. Employment declined 30 per cent over the previous year, with roughly 49,800 people employed in the tourism sector in August 2020.
According to The Conference Board of Canada, there is optimism with $1.71 billion in tourism spending and 9.42 million visits forecast for Saskatchewan in 2021. However, full recovery to pre-pandemic levels is not expected until 2023.
Tourism Saskatchewan's two-year Restart Marketing Strategy envisions a way forward to a rejuvenated tourism industry. The detailed plan outlines possible scenarios to guide tactics to speed recovery, and has an ultimate goal to lead industry to a position stronger and better than before the pandemic.
"The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to proclaim May 23-29 as Saskatchewan Tourism Week," Minister Responsible for Tourism Saskatchewan Jeremy Harrison said. "This will be a time to pay tribute to tourism operators and businesses that have endured unprecedented challenges, and to an industry that showcases our province to the world and helps build a strong economy."
"There is renewed spirit and enthusiasm as Saskatchewan begins to reopen and plans proceed for rebuilding a strong tourism sector," Tourism Saskatchewan CEO Mary Taylor-Ash said. "Tourism Saskatchewan looks forward to reconnecting with our industry through a series of virtual town halls. Throughout the week, we will also be sharing inspiring stories and encouraging Saskatchewan residents to discover the remarkable tourism experiences, products and destinations here at home."
During Saskatchewan Tourism Week, Tourism Saskatchewan will be hosting three virtual tourism town hall meetings for industry operators and stakeholders on May 25, 26 and 27. Participants in the Let's Talk Tourism: The Road to Recovery sessions will hear updates from the Tourism Saskatchewan team on the current state of Saskatchewan's tourism industry after a year of unprecedented challenges.
The agenda includes presentations on the Restart Marketing Strategy, research and trends, education and training, as well as opportunities to work with Tourism Saskatchewan and access various funding programs that can aid tourism businesses. The town hall meetings are designed to offer two-way dialogue and feature a breakout component with facilitated discussion among industry participants.
For more information on Saskatchewan Tourism Week, visit industry.tourismsaskatchewan.com.