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Travel Manitoba Criticized for Inadequate Plans, Practices: Auditor General

January 23, 2020 12:08 PM | News

Polar Bear

A male polar bear eats a piece of whale meat as it walks along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man., on August 23, 2010. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

WINNIPEG — A newly released report from the province’s Auditor General says Travel Manitoba doesn’t have the systems in place to achieve its own tourism goals and objectives.

AG Norm Ricard says while the Crown agency outlines its plans and strategies each year, they don’t fully consider the risks that could affect tourism, nor do they consult with other provincial government stakeholders during the planning process.

“The tourism sector is a strong contributor to Manitoba’s economy,” said Ricard. “Travel Manitoba has developed a number of plans and strategies to support and grow this sector. It now needs to focus on implementing these plans and strategies, and reporting on the results.”

Travel Manitoba oversees a three-year business plan (2019-22), the Provincial Tourism Strategy (2019), the Northern Manitoba Tourism Strategy (2017), and the Manitoba Indigenous Tourism Strategy (2019).

Ricard noted that Churchill is one of the main drivers of tourism to Manitoba, and a centerpiece of Travel Manitoba’s marketing, yet the business plan identifies climate change as a low risk to tourism.

“The loss of the polar bear’s environment due to climate change would have a significant impact on tourism,” Ricard said. As well, Travel Manitoba’s tourism plans and strategies do not have implementation plans, with clear steps, milestones and required resources.

“Implementation plans are important because they set out the steps required to achieve overall goals,” Ricard said.

Ricard also noted that while Travel Manitoba consulted with the business community and incorporated such feedback into its plans and strategies, there were no separate consultations with key government departments early on in the process

“By not having key stakeholders in the provincial government involved earlier in the process, barriers to achievement or other information not previously identified may have been overlooked or omitted,” he said.

Tourism is the province’s third-largest revenue generator, after agriculture and mining. Travel Manitoba’s goal is to reach 12.6 million visitors and $2.2 billion in tourism spending by 2022.

The full report can be read here (PDF).