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The Manitoba government, Travel Manitoba and The Forks Renewal Corporation have partnered to undertake a major renovation of the Visitor Information Centre at The Forks, Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux announced today.

We have much to offer visitors to our province and we also want to encourage Manitobans to explore everything this scenic province has to offer,” said Minister Lemieux.  “We’re hoping that the exciting changes planned for the visitor centre will inspire even more people to enjoy our tourism destination spots as well as camping in the great outdoors, cultural festivals, museums and recreational opportunities.”

Earlier this year, Travel Manitoba unveiled its new marketing brand, Manitoba:  Canada’s Heart...Beats, and will now build on that plan by continuing to promote the uniqueness, quality and diversity of Manitoba’s tourism experiences.

“A new, state-of-the-art Visitor Information Centre at The Forks gives us a unique opportunity to create another tangible brand touch point and to give travellers a sample of the immersive experiences our province has to offer,” said Colin Ferguson, president and CEO, Travel Manitoba.  “We’re building a place that will welcome visitors and where our exciting travel experiences will come to life.”

Construction will begin this summer, with the new Visitor Information Centre opening in the spring of 2015.  Temporarily, visitor services will be provided in a space inside The Forks Market, at the former Sushi Train location. 

The new centre will offer an open, vibrant area for the 20,000 travellers who visit annually to meet staff and create itineraries around their interests.  In addition, all of Travel Manitoba’s Winnipeg staff can be accommodated in the new building and will relocate from their current head office on Carlton Street.  This will result in operational savings of more than $300,000 over 10 years.

“As lead developers and owners of this building, we are very pleased to work with the province and Travel Manitoba to help revitalize this key location at The Forks,” said Jim August, chief executive officer, The Forks North Portage.  “We believe the fully renovated building, the new interactive displays and the increased staff presence will all contribute to making this a must-see destination while visiting The Forks.”

“Tourism is an important, growing industry, with the Conference Board of Canada predicting tourism spending will grow by 5.1 per cent in Manitoba over the next two years,” Minister Lemieux said.  “With new attractions like the Journey to Churchill exhibit at Assiniboine Park set to open this summer and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opening in the fall, Manitoba is ready to open its doors to the world.

“Tourism currently contributes $1.5 billion to the province’s economy, accounting for almost three per cent of our gross domestic product.  Every visitor from outside Manitoba helps the economy and drives employment, given that nearly 25,000 Manitobans work in tourism-related jobs.”

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The Province of Manitoba is distributing this release on behalf of The Forks, Travel Manitoba and the Government of Manitoba.

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