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Homecoming 2010 Good Marketing Opportunity For Rural Tourist Attractions

Manitoba Homecoming 2010 is a chance to tell everyone about your hometown and its unique attractions, says Kevin Walters, executive director for Manitoba Homecoming 2010.

Speaking at the Direct Farm Marketing Conference held in Morris last weekend, Walters urged participants to use the year-long promotion of Manitoba to help get the word out about what’s interesting to see and do in their locale.

Homecoming 2010 is a tourism promotion offered by Travel Manitoba, Destination Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba with a goal of luring 50,000 Manitobans home this year and generating $30 million in tourism revenues.

Key events are listed on a lengthening list on Homecoming’s website, including community festivals and regional tourism links.

Many towns a re us ing Homecoming to showcase their communities, Walters said.

Neepawa was chosen as official host of Manitoba Day celebrations May 12 but decided to build five days of special events around it.

“They took the Manitoba Day and said ‘let’s make it bigger, let’s create other events. Let’s get people coming home to Neepawa in May.’”

WORLD’S BIGGEST SOCIAL

A big event this spring will be May 15 when 63 towns will collectively host The World’s Biggest Social. That’s double the number of towns they’d hope would join in and host a local social, and means probably most small-to mid-size communities are now having one, Walters said.

“It’s going to be a big night.”

Agricultural fairs, family and town reunions, and festivals are also using Homecoming 2010 for promotion.

“The Morden Corn and Apple Festival is really being pushed this year as a homecoming, and so is the Gimli Icelandic festival, ” Walters said. Homecoming is, in fact, an authentic theme of these events.

“A lot of people do come home for these things anyway, but often times you don’t brand it that way.”

This is also opportunity for those with smaller, private ventures to become more visible too. The Direct Farm Marketing Conference is a two-day conference annually attracting operators of farm vacations and sellers at farmers’ markets and roadside stands, local museum volunteers and others trying to build visitor traffic to rural areas.

“And all of you have attractions and have things in your town that

people will be inter-e sted in and would love to see and do,” Walters said.

New agri-tourism operator John Penner in Giroux plans to take advantage of Homecoming promotions.

Last year, his family set up a Scarecrow Forest, or halfkilometre gravel trail carved out of their bushland with scarecrow scenes greeting hikers to attract people to their farm where they do farm gate vegetable sales. They tried this last year and had visitors with addresses all over Canada dropping in plus even a few international sightseers too, Penner said.

“That made us think that the Homecoming promotions could really help us in promoting this business here.”

Nearly 30 town and family reunions are now listed on the Homecoming 2010 website, plus two dozen festivals and several key events and conferences scheduled for later this year.

It’s not too late to sign on your attractions and events, Walters said.

For more information log on to www.manitobahomecoming2010.com

[email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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