Travel and tourism in Saskatchewan has been making its way into more and more people’s vacation plans.
With restrictions now gone, it’s begs the question of if that trend has continued or has stagnated in light of more options becoming available.
Amy McInnis, executive director of marketing and communications with Tourism Saskatchewan, has the intel on travel rates for both domestic and international travelers here in Saskatchewan.
“Up ticks in visitation and revenue from 2021 are really encouraging,” shared McInnis. “Additionally, Destination Canada, our federal partner, their recent travel sentiment surveys have shown increased comfort for domestic travel and particularly within the province, so that’s a good indicator of people interest and willingness to travel. So it’s a really positive indicator for what we have to expect for 2022.”
During the pandemic, restriction and closed international borders limited peoples ability to both travel outside the country, as well as limiting tourists who would have traveled into the province.
“International visitation continues to rebound since the reopening of international borders last August,” McInnis relayed. “But it’s really a much slower pace.”
Since the Canada – U.S border reopened to fully vaccinated travelers in August, there has been a marked increase in incoming travelers. But that number is still 70% fewer than pre pandemic levels.
In 2019, travel and tourism in Saskatchewan as an industry produced over $2.7 billion in revenue, with 71,000 employees making up 12% of all jobs in Saskatchewan.
Once the pandemic hit, 2020 saw revenue fall devastatingly by over a billion dollars to $1.17 billion. Tourism related employment fell by over 30%.
“While it’s going to take some time to bounce back, business have been fairly creative,” pointed out McInnis. “They found new ways to serve their customers, new experiences to deliver. That’s been kind of positive thing that’s come out of the pandemic.”
McInnis pointed out how a really wonderful thing to come out of the last year is how people have explored their own province inside of Canada more than they ever have before. That helps to create a better sense of community and national identity amongst individuals who get to go out and see their home, learn about the history and culture behind it, as well as allowing them to better understand the advantages to travelling locally.
For international travelers looking for somewhere to come and explore, Saskatchewan has the a unique advantage.
“We’re sort of blessed for choice and space, and so we might not have some of the other concerns of other destination in terms of overcrowding and capacity,” explained McInnis. “Even for people looking to escape big cities, coming to Saskatchewan they can find a very different type of city experience here.”
That isn’t to mention that our cities average on the smaller size compared to super block structures like Toronto and Calgary, but also in the implementation of Saskatchewan’s natural wonders.
“Our cities are really connected to nature, trails, networks, and parks,” continued McInnis. “Outdoor experiences are easily accessed. We’re known for our natural beauty and wide open spaces, and so we definitely have room to accommodate everyone.”
While a return to the massive numbers and revenues of pre pandemic times aren’t expected to happen right away, they are expected to start returning some time in 2023.
With gas prices, supply chain issues, and resulting vehicle production issues, local travel may be the move to make for some time to come. Luckily Saskatchewan residents won’t be starved for options both at home and in the broader Saskatchewan landscape.