Never mind the international jet-set this summer — some northern Manitoba mayors hope Winnipeggers and others will vacation in their neck of the woods now that COVID-19 northern travel restrictions were entirely axed Friday.
The restrictions, which limited travel north of the 53rd since mid-April, were already relaxed this month to allow Manitobans to directly travel to tourist destinations or cabins.
“There’s so many different things you can experience up here — the water and the wild is sort of a bit of a brand for us now and we really take that to the extreme,” said Flin Flon Mayor Cal Huntley.
Huntley pointed to the pristine wilderness in the area, which sits on the Canadian Shield, as a reason to head north.
“The outlying areas, you have great fishing, wonderful lakes, wonderful beaches, great camping facilities as well,” he said.
Despite ongoing restrictions and bans on large public gatherings, Huntley said Flin Flon is adapting.
“People are… really trying to do things as interesting as they possibly can and showcasing the uniqueness to the area as best they can,” he said. “Come on up and have a peek.”
Flin Flon is about 760 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
Meanwhile, just down the road in The Pas — about 140 kilometres southeast of Flin Flon — the city’s mayor finds the relaxed restrictions encouraging.
“I would really like to see tourists return to our region, we have a lot to offer — summer times are beautiful up here,” said Herb Jacques, The Pas’ mayor. “This year might be a good year for the staycations — northern Manitoba and The Pas, in particular, are probably the prettiest places in the province and we would like people to come up and have a look.”
The region’s tourists are mostly nature enthusiasts or anglers who come to trophy fish, many of whom are American or from elsewhere in Canada, Jacques said.
“These are beautiful, beautiful areas, so maybe it’s time for Manitobans and Canadians to visit what we have in our backyard and the Americans can stay in the U.S. this year.”
But Jacques has one suggestion for travellers to the region.
“It’s well worth the trip. Bring mosquito repellant though, that’s one word of advice.”
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