Thursday November 27, 2014

Tourism makeover will ensure growth


Dear Editor

In March, our government recently released the 2012-13 budget. It’s a budget that we are proud of and that will make Saskatchewan stand out in Canada.

It is a balanced budget that improves access to health care and makes life more affordable for Saskatchewan citizens.

One particular change in this year’s budget is a decision to transition Tourism Saskatchewan to a Treasury Board Crown.

Making this change will help focus Tourism Saskatchewan’s mandate, better co-ordinate the provincial image, grow this industry and support our government’s growth agenda.

This decision was made after reviewing the results of the Tourism System Review – a review conducted by independent consultants. During consultations, we heard clearly from industry that government needs to decide if ‘it is in tourism, or not.’ We are in, and we believe these changes will make the industry stronger.

The consultations for the review included key stakeholder interviews, meetings with specific organizations including Tourism Saskatchewan’s management team, focus group sessions with industry and written input from interested organizations. The consultations showed that generally there is satisfaction with the current model, but that it could be better. We want to be better.

I wanted to take this opportunity to address a few concerns we’ve heard about this transition. I want to assure everyone the services Tourism Saskatchewan currently provides will continue.

Members will still be able to access Tourism Saskatchewan programming such as partnership marketing opportunities, Quality Assurance Program, and promoting their businesses in Tourism Saskatchewan literature and promotional materials.

We took the best practice from across the country to ensure we kept the advantages of a corporate model. It is worth noting that every other jurisdiction in Canada has the tourism functions in either an agency of the crown or delivers it directly through a ministry. For example, many people may have seen Newfoundland and Labrador’s recent television campaign, which recently won the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s Marketing Campaign of the Year award. Newfoundland and Labrador currently does this from inside the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

With this Treasury Board Crown model the Ministry of Tourism, Parks Culture and Sport and Tourism Saskatchewan officials will still have an opportunity and responsibility to ensure the interests of the tourism industry are being heard.

The ability to respond to shifts in the marketplace and technology; the ability to access private sector support and partnership through partnered marketing programs; the ability to market online; the long-term commitment to markets; the ability to enter multi-year agreements; the ability to carry over funds between fiscal years; the ability to attract top quality marketing people; and, the ability to foster industry engagement will all continue under a Treasury Board Crown model.

We believe a Treasury Board Crown model offers the best balance of flexibility and accountability.

I would like to thank the board of Tourism Saskatchewan and all of the hard working and dedicated staff. They have helped grow the tourism industry – currently a $1.7 billion dollar industry in Saskatchewan – and we look forward to working with them to continue to grow this industry.

Bill Hutchinson

Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport



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