He sits out there in all kinds of weather: sunshine, wind, rain, snow and frigid temperatures, likely thinking about hopping into the Tutor jet alongside and escaping for a better tourist climate.
But Mac the Moose Jaw and the Snowbirds’ Tutor will stay where they are, greeting visitors, as they did, as slowly but cautiously tourist numbers appeared to pick up during several months of 2021, despite a pandemic and continuing concern about the safety of travel.
Official reports indicate April, May and June were dismal for tourist numbers in Moose Jaw, those figures being down between 80-90 per cent over previous years. When health restrictions were modified, numbers began growing from mid-July to August and then boomed in September, giving Tourism Moose Jaw the second-best September on record.
There is always skepticism about what tourists bring to the local economy but there can be no doubt that over-night visitors who rely on services such as hotels, restaurants, attractions, gas stations, mechanics and even laundromats will leave behind dollars that boost local businesses. Drive-by visitors do not have the same impact, but there is always hope those folks will spread the word to other travellers and might even someday return for a longer stay.
With September figures in mind, tourism industry members must certainly be optimistic for the 2022 season, never for one minute discounting the uncertainty resulting from new variants and changing health risks.
Despite the uncertainty, there is cautious optimism that events that draw crowds will go ahead in 2022, from the music, band, dance and choral festivals to the Hometown Fair to Sidewalk Days, Festival of Words, events at Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village, ParkArt, Canada Day celebrations and another summer concert at Ross Wells Park.
Moose Jaw is a goldmine of things to see and do, not only for guests who come from away but also for citizens of the city and district. It boggles the mind at the number of local residents who have never visited our museums, taken a ride on the trolly, investigated the tunnels, taken a walking tour of the murals, or had a picnic in Wakamow Valley.
It might not seem like it now, but tourist season will soon be here. Will Moose Jaw be ready? Of course we will.
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.