Emotion at heart of Travel Manitoba’s tourism campaign

In a bid to reignite wanderlust, both at home and abroad, while bumping up tourism revenue in the province, Travel Manitoba launched a new campaign and brand on Monday.

After the tourism sector was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — and is only now beginning to rebound — Travel Manitoba knew it was time for a change, said president and CEO Colin Ferguson.

That’s when the organization’s newest campaign, “Canada’s Heart is Calling,” was born. The initiative’s goal is to attract $1.6 million in tourism revenue to Manitoba by 2024, and $2.5 billion by 2030.

“Knowing the work that lay ahead to recover from COVID, we needed to assess the brand’s relevance to our key target markets in order to position Manitoba’s tourism industry for success in both [the] short and long term,” Ferguson said. “The [previous] brand changed the way people viewed Manitoba as a travel destination. We wanted to tell the next chapter of that story.”

Its last tourism strategy, called “Manitoba, Canada’s Heart … Beats,” was launched in 2014.

Today’s travellers are seeking unique experiences they can share with family and friends, Ferguson said, and Manitoba is full of those experiences. The new brand uses multimedia to tell Manitoba’s stories and play on travellers’ desires, whatever they may be.

“We needed to harness the emotional impact of our most awe-inspiring assets and focus on the experiences and activities that our target markets are interested in,” Ferguson said. “The portrayal of our experiences needed more emotional connection — connection that makes the visitor part of the place they are visiting and makes that place part of them.”

Travel Manitoba collaborated with a team of creatives from around the province, including Winnipeg-based marketing firm Uphouse, to deliver the campaign.

Alex Varricchio, co-owner of Uphouse, alongside Kiirsten May, said it was important to ensure the new brand was accessible.

“We wanted to make sure that this brand is welcoming. The tagline [Canada’s Heart is Calling] should invite more people into the fold.”

The future of Manitoba’s tourism industry relies on not being afraid to make waves, May added.

“Bold moves are the reason Travel Manitoba and the tourism brand are the success that they are today. [When] travel is more competitive than ever … the industry needs to be cutting edge.”

Premier Heather Stefanson said Manitoba’s tourism sector is a “vital contributor” to its economy, employing tens of thousands of people. She stressed the private sector will play a crucial role in rejuvenating the local tourism industry.

“With an abundance of outdoor recreation activities, a competitive and world-class sports and entertainment industry and a vibrant arts and culture sector, there is so much to explore in every community in our beautiful province,” Stefanson said.

“As our economy emerges into a new era of growth, this campaign will help ensure Manitoba’s tourism industry continues to be a key contributor to our economy and the growth of our communities.”

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun