The tourism sector is a significant player in Winnipeg’s diverse economy. The industry employs approximately 14,000 individuals in various full-time and part-time positions and is continuing to grow. The industry largely consists of small businesses in the following five areas:
- scenic and sightseeing transportation
- performing arts, spectator sports and related
- heritage institutions
- amusement, gambling and recreation
- accommodation services
In 2004, over 2.7 million people visited Winnipeg for leisure, business, visits to friends or family, and other personal reasons. The distribution of visitors throughout the year has generally kept pace with the Canadian average. Winnipeg’s tourism is largely generated from Western Canada, Ontario, Minnesota and North Dakota. Winnipeg is the four-season cosmopolitan city in this region.
In total, visitor expenditures in 2004 were estimated over $520 million on transportation, accommodations, food and beverages, recreation, entertainment, and retail purchases during their stay. In 2004, the total overnight travel improved and expenditures increased by 14%.
Tourism has experienced more volatility and cyclical growth than most sectors of the economy. However, Winnipeg’s tourism has been relatively stable compared to most Canadian cities and overall growth in the tourism industry has been at the national average over the last five years.
- A rich and colourful history featured in various historical sites, exhibits, and attractions. Winnipeg is home to one of the best collections of turn of the century buildings in Canada from the 19th and 20th centuries. Top attractions include the Exchange District, now a national historical site, and historic St. Boniface.
- The Forks National Historic Site of Canada, featuring a food market, various independent merchants, green space, concert stage, and historical interpretation of the site.
- Arts and cultural attractions including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Museum, Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Manitoba Theatre Centre.
- Numerous festivals held throughout the year including Folklorama, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and Festival du Voyageur.
- A variety of professional sports attractions including the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Goldeyes, and horse racing at Assiniboine Downs.
- Winnipeg’s tourism infrastructure includes several high quality sports, arts and entertainment facilities such as the new state-of-the-art MTS Centre, Canad Inns Stadium, CanWest Global Park, Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Centennial Concert Hall.
- For meetings and conventions, Winnipeg has over 450,000 square feet of total meeting floor space throughout the city including 160,000 square feet at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
- There are over 6,600 hotel rooms in Winnipeg with close to 3,000 rooms in the downtown area.