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Tourism forecast to grow at healthy pace

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Solid economic growth in Western Canada and the addition of new tourist attractions should keep the number of visitors to Manitoba growing at a healthy pace over the next four years, according to a new forecast from the Conference Board of Canada.

The Ottawa-based think tank said the number of overnight visits to the province is expected to rise by 2.6 per cent to 3.6 million in 2013, and continue to climb in each of the following three years by an average of three per cent.

Similarly, spending by overnight visitors is expected to grow by 5.1 per cent to $1.14 billion in 2013, and continue climbing by an average of 5.4 per cent in each of the next three years, the board added.

"The tourism sector has benefited from strong economic growth and significant improvements to tourism-related infrastructure," it said. "Over the medium to long term, the expansion of Winnipeg’s airport should provide added capacity not only for flights from within Canada, but also for arrivals from international markets."

It predicted the biggest increase in 2013 will be in the number of overseas visitors (up a projected 3.3 per cent), followed by domestic visitors (up 2.6 per cent). The number of visits by U.S. tourists is expected to remain unchanged, it added.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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