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Tourism Winnipeg launches mobile pass for city sites

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How much can you fit in a day?

Tourism Winnipeg is suggesting five attractions — but if a day’s too short, it’ll give you three. It launched a mobile pass promoting popular Winnipeg sites Monday.

“With how things are looking, and everybody out there travelling again, we thought this would be a really good time (to launch),” said Tyler Walsh, Economic Development Winnipeg’s marketing director.

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press Files

Tourism Winnipeg launched a mobile pass promoting popular Winnipeg sites including The Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Users of the Winnipeg Attractions Pass can jump between the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, FortWhyte Alive, the Manitoba Museum, the Royal Canadian Mint and the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada for a reduced rate.

People who purchase the online pass, which shows up on phone screens, have 24 or 72 hours — depending on their choice — to trek the five sites. The clock begins once the first admission is scanned.

“Our goal is always to grow,” said Rorie McLeod, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’s media relations specialist.

The museum talked about such a pass with Tourism Winnipeg pre-pandemic, McLeod said.

Since then, the CMHR has experienced a slashing of in-person visits that it hasn’t fully recouped. It would see an average 300,000 visitors annually before COVID-19 arrived, according to McLeod.

Now, some days’ traffic reaches pre-pandemic heights; others sink below 50 per cent, he said.

“Every time someone walks through our doors, that’s one more person that we can reach… (and) inspire,” McLeod added. “This offer is an important part of that.”

Tourism Winnipeg will market its pass in rural Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Dakota and northwestern Ontario in the coming weeks, according to Walsh.

It will also promote to Winnipeggers via social media.

“We know Winnipeggers love a deal,” Walsh said.

Adult one day passes cost $37 each; three day passes are $52. Buying tickets separately at the five locations, not through the pass, comes to $78 pre-tax for adults.

Tourism Winnipeg’s children’s passes cost $21 for one day and $29 for three.

“Hopefully (users) invest some… dollars in seeing our great restaurants and attractions, and staying at our hotels,” Walsh said.

He expects the tourism pass will create a ripple effect through the hospitality industry. Leisure travellers “came back in droves” last summer, and this pass will only help with future visitation, he said.

Accommodation tax revenues last year surpassed 2019’s, according to Economic Development Winnipeg data. People pay the five per cent tax at hotels.

“The tax revenue was more than cut in half in 2020 and 2021 by the pandemic,” Danica Hidalgo, a digital marketing coordinator with Economic Development Winnipeg, wrote in an email. “This level of rebound is excellent.”

A recent Tourism Economics forecast projects a return of 2019 visitor spending levels — $1.6 billion annually — this year.

In 2021, tourism spending dropped to $967.7 million, according to a Travel Manitoba report.

“Every indication we’ve had is that things are looking really positive,” Walsh said, adding Tourism Winnipeg is booking a queue of events for years in advance.

The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada has seen 60,000 visitors since opening its new building in May, according to Vanessa Desorcy, the museum’s marketing specialist.

“I do think there’ll be a bit of a bump in visitation from (the pass),” she said. “Some of our visitors might not have thought of going to FortWhyte and the Mint, and vice versa, so it’s a great cross promotional opportunity.”

It’s a marketing tool for a budget-conscious non-profit like FortWhyte Alive, noted program director Dana Forster.

“We’re not competitors with other organizations,” she said. “We need to partner to draw people to Winnipeg.”

Bandwango created Tourism Winnipeg’s pass. The tech company has created passes for Travel Manitoba, including one promoting breweries and another for exploring Churchill.

“People like a little bit of help in creating experiences,” said Linda Whitfield, a spokesperson for Travel Manitoba. “I think (these passes) give people a fuller idea on what all there is to see do.”

Tourism Winnipeg’s pass is available for purchase on its website.

gabrielle.piche@winnipegfreepress.com

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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