After a slow start to 2021, Tourism Moose Jaw’s numbers began to grow throughout the year as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
Tourism Moose Jaw had a couple of ad campaigns and viral videos catch fire early in the year, but in April, May and June Tourism was seeing visitors 80 to 90 per cent below average due to the pandemic restrictions.
Numbers picked up mid-way through July when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. July and August saw a 30 to 50 per cent drop from the average. Executive Director of Tourism Moose Jaw Jacki L’Heureaux-Mason said many of those visitors came from Alberta and Manitoba.
“We definitely missed our American visitors, there's no way around it. They make a major impact in our economy every year, but I would have to say our locals, definitely, pulled up their socks and got on the road a little bit,” L’Heureux-Mason said.
“I know camping was a huge thing this year. Anybody who tried to camp struggled finding spots, but as a result, I know our hotels got to seek quite a bit of activity for a summer that I don't think anybody really knew what to expect coming into it.”
Then Tourism Moose Jaw saw its second-best September on record, only trailing September of 2019, just before the pandemic took hold.
“I think what that represents was that we did see a little bit of our older population coming when it was a little bit quieter, which does tend to happen historically, but we also saw a lot of families that were maybe extending their summer break a little bit more, the ones that were homeschooling potentially,” L’Heureux-Mason explained.
“But either way, we just know operating the trolley a little bit longer really did seem to be a good thing for us because a lot more people came through our office.”
Finishing off the year, Tourism Moose Jaw had one of its most successful Twinkle Tours yet.
Looking ahead, L’Heureux-Mason said they are looking at a number of modified events in the next six months to ease people in as we work towards getting back to normal.
Sidewalk Days is scheduled to go ahead this summer, an event that was getting bigger and bigger each year before the pandemic sit and forced its cancellation.
“Historically, we've been having difficulties managing numbers. We just go based on hotel numbers. So, this year we've got a bit of a plan to start tracking a little bit more information from people and where they're coming from,” L’Heureux-Mason said.
Along with Sidewalk Days, L’Heureux-Mason is also hoping that Festival of Words can return to in-person events which will help boost tourism numbers in 2022.
She also teased that Tourism Moose Jaw will have a major announcement coming in the next month. Discover Moose Jaw will have coverage when the announcement is made.