Saskatchewan tourism sector optimistic about 2024 events – Saskatoon

National Tourism Week is taking place across Canada and things are looking optimistic for Saskatchewan, according to some local tourism professionals.
Steph Clovechok, CEO of Discover Saskatoon said last year presented some challenges that stemmed from the pandemic, but said she is already impressed with visitation levels for 2024 so far.She said in 2022 almost $70 million was generated from the visitor economy in Saskatoon. She said this accounted for roughly 13,000 jobs in the city.

Tourism industry booming in Saskatchewan despite inflation

“This is really such a unique opportunity for us to celebrate being the province’s fourth largest exporter and being a contributor to the community’s wealth and well-being,” Clovechok said. Story continues below advertisement

“We’re seeing partners like SaskTel Centre, TCU Place and Prairieland Park. The amount of experiences that they’re bringing and the shows that they’re bringing into the community, many of them selling out, is a demonstration that there’s this pent up demand for travel and for experiences.”

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She said the business sector is also building up, adding that they are confirming more bids for events than previous years like 2019, which she called a banner year for the city.Clovechok said they are still seeing a delay in the business event sector and corporate travel, noting that there are challenges with air access in Saskatchewan.That being said, Clovechok said the work they’ve done in other communities to promote Saskatoon is starting to bear fruit, with several sporting and business events and leisure travel coming to the city.She pointed to the Hockey Canada Rivalry Series that was held in Saskatoon in February and the launch of the YXE Urban Games slated for Saskatoon in August as some of the amazing events hitting the city this year.Clovechok said events like the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Saskatoon Folkfest and the Saskatoon Fringe is a great opportunity for locals to enjoy the city, but is also a compelling invitation for people outside the city to visit.

Shaping Saskatchewan: Tourism Saskatoon CEO Stephanie Clovechok

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When asked whether events like Taste of Saskatchewan, which was cancelled last year, would see a return, Clovechok said the docket of events currently on the table is sound and that they’ve reconsidered some past events. Story continues below advertisement

“We’re going to see new iterations of that, and I think what we saw the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival do last year in their new location in Victoria Park has really reimagined some of the standard and carousel events that we became used to pre-pandemic.”She said inflation is impacting the tourism sector and is forcing organization to deepen partnerships to make sure events can still continue.Jonathan Potts, CEO of Tourism Saskatchewan said nearly 70,000 people are employed in the tourism industry across the province.

He said the industry produces almost $2.5 billion in visitor expenditures each year.Potts said many events are still on the road to recovery, but he said they expect visitation to come back.“This is a worldwide issue. People’s habits changed between 2020 and maybe 2022 and found that they could stay indoors more or connect to things via their computer or televisions,” Potts said.He said it’s important to the tourism industry to break those habits and get people back out enjoying what they did before the pandemic.Potts said event-goers are feeling the pinch with increased costs, but said Saskatchewan events and experiences are a good destination for nearby markets due to our affordability.

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