Tourism continues to shape the economy

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Moose Jaw is one of the many communities across the province who are taking part this week in celebrating tourism in Saskatchewan as a way to bring attention to the economic opportunity available to Canada through travel and tourism.

The Tunnels of Moose Jaw serves as a top tourist destination in the province. Times-Herald photo by Mickey Djuric

Saskatchewan Tourism Week runs until June 21, and Moose Jaw is participating by promoting the best of what the city has to offer while stressing the importance of community involvement.

"We would not be where we are as a city without tourism," said Candis Kirkpatrick, executive director for Tourism Moose Jaw who sees tourism increasing slightly each year.

Kirkpatrick attributes the local tourism success to many businesses that have surfaced  or improved in recent years including the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort Hotel, the Tunnels of Moose Jaw and the Western Development Museum. 

"The businesses that have sprung up around Moose Jaw are really dependent on tourism and nobody will ever convince me otherwise." 

Tourism contributes to more than $2.12 billion to Saskatchewan's economy annually, and in 2012, there were more than 12.5 million visits to and within the province, according to Tourism Saskatchewan. 

"The ecomony has improved. Once that happens you have the injection of dollars coming into the community, then people begin to respond by developing more and upping up their game," said Kirkpatrick.

"Some of the boutiques here are selling high end quality merchandise, and things that appeal not only to locals but appeal to people coming into the city with dollars to spend."

Tourism Saskatchewan also reported approximately 55,600 residents in the province are employed in tourism or tourism-related jobs. 

"The economy is huge and I believe, obviously, this has opened up a lot of jobs," said Kirkpatrick. "The Tunnels of Moose Jaw is going into their 15th season and they hire 40 plus people all the time. Some people hired there have gone on to other jobs, but a lot of them have stayed in the community."

Kirkpatrick has seen tourism holding its own within the province.

"Last year we had a significant increase. I think because Mosaic Place is one of our newer attractions so to speak and the fact that people are coming to town after hearing about its success. Anytime we have something that continues to be successful, the more people come out."

Some attractions around Moose Jaw this year include the A-Moose-ing Race, the RuBarb production of Singing In The Rain, and the City of Moose Jaw's Ghost Stories and Tales of Murder trolly tours. 

It is very important for not only tourists to celebrate local attractions, but important for locals to take part in what the city has to offer, said Kirkpatrick. 

"It's about taking pride in the city. To me to live in a city that isn't the butt of jokes anymore, that is the envy of tourist destinations, that says a whole lot. I think if we continue to keep that in mind as citizens, then only good things will happen," said Kirkpatrick.

"You know you want your business to look good, and you want your restaurant to have the best food, you want your yards to be mowed and your flowers watered. City pride, that's the main thing."

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