Tourisme Riel is the destination marketing and product development division of Entreprises Riel. Visit our web site at www.tourismeriel.com.
Tourisme Riel’s Tourist Information Centres
Our summer employees offer visitor information services at two seasonal tourist information desks – one in St. Norbert and one on the Esplanade Riel footbridge, while our main visitor information center operates on a year-round basis at 219 Provencher Boulevard. We continue to manage a toll-free tourist information line for all 17 bilingual municipalities in the province, as well as providing mail-out and information gathering services as a follow-up to these enqueries. Tourism activity in the area remains steady despite a provincial decrease. In 2012-2013, Tourisme Riel greeted 5,983 visitors, compared to 6,023 the previous year. With repairs and renovations to the St. Boniface Cathedral in 2012, the information kiosk at the Cathedral was not open for business. Despite this, the number of unique visitors remained relatively unchanged. Conservative estimates show that tourists having received information services would typically extend their stay one extra day, meaning Tourisme Riel would have contributed to an increase in tourism spending in Manitoba by approximately $538,000 over the 2012-2013 season. Group visits represented 1,434 people either in school groups, corporate groups or others. Although this appears to be a modest decrease from the previous year, it is largely due to the transfer of the Theater in the Cemetery sales to the St. Boniface Museum. GPS tours and the St. Boniface Walking Tours continue to be popular among all groups.
2011-2012 Marketing Campaign
For a third consecutive year, Tourisme Riel joinded forces with local area attractions to run its co-op marketing campaign. With the support of these attractions, we were able to leverage our limited resources to put forth a successful marketing campaign for the 2012-2013 season. This year’s campaign focused on transit bus ads, print ads, regular updates to the web site, editorials in the Free Press, familiarization tours and the ongoing Ambassador Program. We extend a special thanks to the following businesses and organizations who contributed to the success of this campaign: Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba (CDEM), Université de Saint-Boniface (Theatre in the cemetery), St. Boniface Museum, Festival du Voyageur, Maison des artistes visuels francophones, Provencher Boulevard BIZ, Maison Gabrielle-Roy and the Centre culturel franco-manitobain.
The new Tourisme Riel web site was launched early in 2012 and has proven to be very successful. All area attractions are able to add their respective information through a secure login process, keeping the web content fresh and up-to-date. It also allows us to post the latest information, photos and annoncements, ensuring the relevance of the site and ultimately, increased visitations. In fact, the number of visitors to the web site for the 2012-2013 fiscal year was 10,143, compared to 4,815 in 2011-2012, an impressive increase of 147%. Over 4,100 of these were first-time visitors.
Tourisme Riel also jumped on the social media band wagon and launched its Facebook page. To date, although still in its infancy, Tourisme Riel’s Facebook page has attracted 194 “likes”, 164 “friends” (150% increase over last year) and continues to be a popular way to send information to its close network of colleagues and area attractions. Tourisme Riel also has 113 Twitter followers.
Riel Ambassador Program
Tourisme Riel continues to run an Ambassador Program to better serve the community and more specifically the tourism sector. This program has created a network of volunteers who are well versed in the history of the community, the area attractions and are willing to give of their time to ensure a positive experience for our visitors. This program is particularly important off season when our summer employees return to school in the fall. This corps of volunteers greatly contributes to the success of special events. The Riel Ambassadors have offered there services at the following events: Canada Day, St. Jean Baptiste Day, the grand opening of La Crêperie (which has since been renamed Le Casse-croûte du pont), Francophone Night at the Goldeyes, the 200th anniversary of the Scottish Settlers, Culture Days, Centrallia, Folklorama, and Christmas in St. Boniface. The ambassadors put in 159 hours of volunteer work in 2012-2013, more than twice as much as last year.
Doors Open Winnipeg
For the seventh consecutive year, Tourisme Riel and area attractions have participated in what has become the city-wide Doors Open project. Hundreds of visitors came through the following area attractions: St. Boniface Cathedral, Fort Gibraltar, Maison Gabrielle Roy, St. Boniface Museum, Old City Hall in St. Boniface, Précieux-Sang Church, St. Norbert Heritage Provincial Park, St. Norbert Church and Royal Canadian Mint.
Geocaching and GPS adventures
Tourisme Riel continues to develop products that provide visitors with unique and entertaining experiences. Six geocaches have been maintained in the area. Over the 2012-2013 season, Tourisme Riel coordinated 27 GPS adventure group tours for a total of 927 participants, an increase of 106 participants over last year. To add a new product for past clients and in order to draw new visitors from other regions, Tourisme Riel developed the GeoRoute Package, offering self-guided GPS tours. The first GeoRoute was launched for the St. Norbert area in collaboration with Group’Action St. Norbert.
Riel Quatro (formerly the Riel Passport)
Launched in 2006, we have continued to offer this award-winning, innovative program which provides visitors with terrific value when they visit a number of local area attractions. The passport is sold at our information centres and at most of the local area attractions, including the Arrowhead Campground in Île-des-Chênes. Our goal is to encourage better visitations to our attractions, provide better experiences for our tourists and better value for all concerned. The participating attractions insisted that the project continue due to its increased popularity and its good return on investment. As this is a trackable promotion, we know for a fact that it has succeeded in extending visitors’ stay in the area by 2 to 4 days. The Riel Passport was revamped for the 2012 season, to become the Riel Quattro, to better respond to the spending habits of tourists. From May to September, 85 Riel Quatro packages were sold.
Guided Walking Tours
For a minimal fee, Tourisme Riel offers guided walking tours of St. Boniface which highlight its many cultural attractions. The tours are offered twice daily, from late May to September and on request during the rest of the year. Over the 2012-2013 season, 772 visitors participated in guided tours of the St. Boniface area. Since 2009, we have added another walking tour, targeted at the passengers on the West-bound VIA Rail train, during their 4-hour stop in Winnipeg on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Tourisme Riel employees meet the train and offer guided walking tours to interested passengers. The tour is promoted on-board the train by the VIA activity coordinators.
Tourisme Riel promotes the various attractions at consumer trade shows (Allée Joie de Vivre) as well as at teachers’ conferences (SAG, Canadian Parents for French, etc.). We are also a member of Team Winnipeg, a coalition of tourism organisations and hotels whose mandate is to work collaboratively to promote Winnipeg as a conference and special events destination. In the spring of 2013, Tourisme Riel participated with the CDEM and the Festival du Voyageur in the Montreal RV show.
In 2012, Tourisme Riel took over the grant application process for Canada Day celebrations on behalf of the following St. Boniface partners: Fort Gibraltar, Maison Gabrielle Roy, St. Boniface Museum and St. Boniface Cathedral. The goal is to create a destination for those wanting to celebrate Canada Day en français. Tourisme Riel distributed the funds accordingly, ensured the publicity and signage, coordinated a shuttle service between sites, and coordinated special events on the Esplanade Riel footbridge. Over 2,100 people participated in the Canada Day events in St. Boniface.
Theatre in the Cemetery
Tourisme Riel transferred the administration of the Theatre in the Cemetery to the St. Boniface Museum in 2013. With repairs and renovations to the St. Boniface Cathedral during the summer of 2012, the starting point for the productions was moved to the museum. This proved to be a positive move which has facilitated closer contact with the performers and the administrators of the program.
Tourisme Riel offers an array of St. Boniface related merchandise (t-shirts, scarves, post cards, hats, pins, key chains and books). These souvenirs are available through our information desks, our office and local area attractions.
Familiarization and Media Tours (FAM)
Tourisme Riel works in partnership with Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba to host familiarization tours to tour operators and the national and international media. Editorials offer great value in terms of promoting the Riel district to visitors. In fact, over the last year, the district has benefited from the following publications and additions to promotional Web sites which represent hundreds of thousands of dollars in promotional value.
|Publication / Site||Date|
|Camping Caravaning, Le Manitoba francophone||March-April 2012 Publication (4 pages)|
|Le Figaro, France, En baie d’Hudson, la ruée vers l’ours||May 4, 2012|
|Lonely Planet (Robert – US Editor)||Web site – Garage Café, P’tite France|
|La presse.ca, Churchill, Saint-Boniface, Winnipeg||April 24, 2012|
|Habicurious.ca, The Grey Nun’s Convent, Adaptive Reuse||May 11, 2012|
|Winnipeg Free Press, Touch of Paris in crepe eatery on Esplanade||May 25, 2012|
|The Independent, UK, Trail of the unexpected: Winnipeg||June 1, 2012|
|Winnipeg Free Press, Eat, Play, Love – Summertime sounds better en français||June 23, 2012|
|Winnipeg Lance, Old St. Boniface set for Canada Day party||June 27, 2012|
|CBC RADIO, C’est la vie! Émission sur les quartiers francophones du Canada, hors Québec||March 2013|