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This article was published 27/7/2017 (1219 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Enthusiasm remains high that the Canada Summer Games will provide a major boost for what has already been a busy summer in the city’s hospitality and tourism-related industries.

Earlier in the planning process, the thinking was the games might inject as much as $150 million of additional economic activity for the city and province during the 17-day games, with an influx of about 20,000 people into the city.

"The numbers on the economic impact are varying a little bit but they are in the range of $100 million and that is a big deal," said Dayna Spiring, CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg

"We could still get to $150 million but I’m just being cautious about overshooting."

The previous estimates may have overstated the number of families travelling with the 4,000 athletes competing, but hotels and restaurants are all expecting a boost in business during a traditionally slow stretch of summer for city hotels and restaurants.

"It is happening at a great time of the year for our members," said Scott Jocelyn, CEO of the Manitoba Hotel Association.

"This is a showcase for the city. The Forks has things every night, the downtown will be hopping, everyone is open for business and ready to go." ‐ Dayna Spiring, CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg.

Business travel is generally down in the middle of the summer, so many hotel properties — especially those located near competition venues — are looking forward to solid occupancies.

Most of the athletes will be staying in student housing at the University of Manitoba.

Bruce MacKay, general manager of the Holiday Inn Airport West on Portage Avenue, said he knows his hotel has some extra bookings related to the softball competition at the John Blumberg Softball Complex in Headingley.

"People are putting a lot of effort into it and doing their part to support the games," MacKay said.

"Everyone here is decked out in Games paraphernalia. When we look at our numbers from June, July is staying strong. This will compliment that."

At The Forks — the site of the nightly Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Canada Games Festival — there is no doubt the Games are going to push numbers, which have already been strong from Canada Day on.

Last weekend, there were 42,000 visitors to The Forks — up slightly from the previous year — and The Forks’ vice-president, Clare MacKay said there’s anticipation the numbers will rise significantly with the Games.

MacKay said it could be an additional 10,000 people per day.

"It’s going to be be crazy busy at The Forks for a couple of weeks," she said.

"It is going to be fantastic for the entire city. There will be a free festival every day here open to families and visitors and Winnipeggers and Manitobans. There will be amazing talent and it will bring people who might not normally come down to The Forks."

Ben Sparrow, manager of the Inn at The Forks, is being run off his feet.

"The inn is very busy — busier than normal," he said.

"We will have concerts almost every night for two weeks outside the hotel."

He said he still has some rooms available during the Games, but with the Interstellar Rodeo music festival later in August there are a couple of nights later in the month already completely sold out.

"As of the end of June, our numbers for our properties are already up 60 per cent over last year," he said.

Sparrow’s company provides all the catering at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which will be hosting a number of large events during the course of the Games.

Several local businesses are using the Games to support the community enterprise and beef up their own profile.

New Flyer Industries and its coach subsidiary, Motor Coach Industries, are the largest bus manufacturing and parts company in North America but the average bus rider in Canada might not know that.

It has fitted a Canada Summer Games-themed coach traveling through Winnipeg during the final leg of the torch relay and will also supply transportation at official swimming events.

"We are so proud to support such an important event in our community. It not only gives young athletes a chance to shine on their way to Olympic dreams, but it’s especially exciting as a major sporting event that showcases Canadian talent in our own backyard," New Flyer CEO Paul Soubry said.

The occasion of such national attention is an opportunity to show off the city to the rest of the country and Economic Development Winnipeg is making sure it takes advantage of that.

It has produced television ads highlighting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Assiniboine Park, which will air during TSN coverage of the Games.

"This is a showcase for the city," Spiring said.

"The Forks has things every night, the downtown will be hopping, everyone is open for business and ready to go. I do believe the momentum in Winnipeg is continuing to gain traction."


Martin Cash

Martin Cash

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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