Staycation rebate program is much needed ‘boost’ for hard-hit tourism industry, hotel group says

A new local tourism rebate program has given people in the industry a sigh of relief after more than a year of struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Scott Jocelyn, president and CEO of the Manitoba Hotel Association, said the recently launched tourist rebate incentive program was good news.

The incentive began July 31 and will run until August 16, Manitoba chambers of commerce said in a press release.

This program will offer Manitoba residents up to $ 100 off overnight stays at qualifying hotels and motels across the province or up to $ 150 on select hotel-designed packages that include meals or attractions. local, according to the press release.

It will also offer up to half the admission fee for Manitoba’s featured attractions.

The program, announced alongside Travel Manitoba and the province, shows the government “recognizes that it needs to give tourism a boost,” Jocelyn said.

“The reality is that we are likely to need help longer than any other sector, and programs like this are helpful in moving forward along the way,” he said.

Scott Jocelyn is President and CEO of the Manitoba Hotel Association. (Jeff Stapleton / CBC)

For Dane Surtees, general manager of the Alt Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, the incentive program seems like a win-win scenario.

“It will benefit everyone,” Surtees said.

“You have hotels [that] have struggled in the past year and a half [that] are going to have … their heads in the beds. And you’ll have Manitobans moving around the province and also seeing some of the great hotels and landscapes that we have. “

Increasing hotel occupancy rates will also mean these sites can start bringing back staff lost during the pandemic, Surtees said.

Colin Ferguson, president and CEO of Travel Manitoba, said he hopes the new program will help these types of city hotels, which have been particularly affected during the pandemic.

In 2019, the province’s tourism industry grossed more than $ 1.63 billion. And although exact numbers for 2020 are not yet available, Ferguson said he expects a drop of between 40 and 60%.

That’s part of why he said he hopes the new incentive program will help people feel safe to start dating a bit more now that pandemic restrictions are easing, which in turn will help. to mitigate this downward trend in tourist spending.

“It will be a new normal, but it’s better than what we’ve been through for the past 18 months,” he said.

Manitobans seeking the reimbursement will need to submit eligible receipts by Aug. 23, according to the press release from the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce. If there are funds left after that, the program could go into a second phase.

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