When most people think tourism, cargo pants and Tilley hats often come to mind. But tourism, and what Tourism Saskatoon does for our city, is much bigger than leisure travel alone.

Tourism is in fact the world’s largest industry, with international travel receipts totalling $1.159 trillion in 2013. In Saskatoon, visitors spend over half a billion dollars annually, a significant impact to our local economy. This includes leisure travel, as well as national and international conventions, tradeshows, national cultural events and sport events.

So what does Tourism Saskatoon do to keep this very lucrative industry growing? Here’s a sneak peek at what we do to continue to bring more visitors to our city.

Sports – Our sports department works with local, provincial and national sport organizations to put together bids to bring sport events to Saskatoon. A bid is a presentation to sell our destination as the host city for the event. Most recently, Saskatoon Sports Tourism presented a joint bid with Winnipeg to hopefully bring the World Junior Hockey Championships to Saskatoon in 2019. Locally, we work closely with our new local professional lacrosse team, the Saskatchewan Rush. The Saskatchewan Rush’s success has been a big economic boost for the city, drawing locals and an impressive 32% from out of town to Sasktel Centre for game nights.

National Conventions & Events – There is a lot of groundwork that goes into bringing a national convention or cultural event to the city. Our conventions team works with associations and local leaders to bid on conferences such as Skills Canada and the Economic Developers Association of Canada. Cultural events, like the 2017 Canadian Country Music Awards, are coming to Saskatoon because of the work behind the scenes of our National Conventions & Events team and their partnerships with local leaders who take an integral role in promoting and hosting a conference or event.

International Conventions & Events – International conventions are bid upon many more years in advance. Our international team focusses on agriculture, energy, mining, life sciences and food ingredient sectors. Most convention goers, particularly if they’ve come internationally, will spend extra time in Saskatoon, spending an average of $1500 per day in our city. In 2016, Saskatoon hosted the successful World Indigenous Business Forum. In 2018, The International Commission of Irrigation and Drainage will have their international conference in our city. Both conferences our team successfully bid upon.

Leisure – Our leisure department works closely with local events and attractions to promote all there is to see, do, and taste in our city. Saskatoon is marketed online, in print and on air by our team as a city on the edge of nature with a beautiful river valley, and a very strong arts and culture scene that includes the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, the second largest ticketed music festival in Western Canada. Saskatoon also boasts cultural hot spots like Wanuskewin Heritage Park, which draws visitors from around the world. We also provide financial and resource support to many events, and rally passionately for infrastructure and industry improvements on behalf of our members.

And what do I do in our media department? Well, this blog post and other media opportunities. A lot of our department’s time is spent working with local, national and international media to get earned exposure of the city. In the past year, we have seen a lot of coverage from our efforts, in publications including The Globe & Mail, Westjet Magazine and The Toronto Star.

My colleagues and I take pride in promoting Saskatoon and helping grow our local economy. I often joke when meeting with travel media who have yet to visit our city, that’s it’s a place people used to drive through or fly over. But over the last few years, we have become a destination. Saskatoon is a gem, with welcoming people, a scenic river valley flanked by 80km of trails, a city with festivals and events year-round, and with a very strong food and drink scene (after all, we ARE the bread basket of Canada), excellent hotels and many convention spaces. We are the youngest city in the country, with a median age of 34.5 years old (versus 40 years old in Canada), and with that, comes an energy and vibrancy that is not only encouraging people to stop in Saskatoon – whether for sport events, conventions or for leisure – but is enticing them to come back again soon. Music to our ears.

By Aviva Kohen | Media Director | Tourism Saskatoon

October 28, 2016 | Originally posted in Sunrise