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It was a marketing ploy that worked

The year-long celebration known as Manitoba Homecoming 2010, designed to bring former Manitobans and new visitors to the province and maximize the economic benefits of tourism, appears to not only have met its goals, but exceeded them.

Recently released figures from Statistics Canada show that Winnipeg recorded 2.8 million person visits in 2010, an increase of seven per cent over 2009, and $506 million in visitor expenditures, an increase of five per cent.

According to Marina James, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg Inc., the city would normally see visitor expenditure growth in the range of 1.7 to two per cent.

“Of the $25-million increase in expenditures in 2010, we believe we can attribute approximately $14.7 million to the success of Homecoming,” James said. “Total attendance at some 400 Homecoming-affiliated events was over 200,000, and those additional visitors contributed to Homecoming’s economic impact.”

Similarly, provincial visitation rose 5.7 per cent to 8.599 million person visits and expenditures rose by 5.6 per cent to $1.258 billion, more than the all-time high of $1.236 billion in 2007. Of the $67 million increase in expenditures between 2009 and 2010, approximately $30 million can be attributed to Homecoming.

“One of Homecoming’s goals was to capitalize on the positive feeling in Manitoba and take advantage of that increased community confidence,” said Doug Harvey who, along with Mariette Mulaire, co-chaired Manitoba Homecoming. “These numbers confirm the success we had with those original goals of promoting our changing and vibrant province.”

Homecoming 2010 was an initiative created jointly by Travel Manitoba and Tourism Winnipeg, and supported by the Province of Manitoba.

The campaign’s $3.5-million budget — derived from public investment and leveraged private-sector funds — was spent largely on marketing across Manitoba, throughout Canada and internationally. The Homecoming website tracked 200,000 visits from 10 provinces, two territories, 50 states and 137 countries.

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