Gas price hike has some Manitoba tourism communities concerned

A hike in gas prices is causing concern for Manitoba communities that rely on tourism.

Another jump at the pump saw prices hit $1.87 per litre at many stations in Winnipeg on Friday.

“I’m spending $100 a week on gas because I commute and there’s no way around it,” said Ned Valcich, who was filling his tank in Winnipeg.

The gas prices have some people rethinking their summer road trips, which is a worrying thought for the family-owned Beach Boy Restaurant in Gimli.

“It’s extremely important for everyone, not only for us,” said Lucia Makiaris, an owner of the restaurant. “People here survive – the small businesses – with tourists really. In the wintertime, there’s not much going on and everything is almost closed. Everybody waits for springtime to open in the busy months of the summer.”

Businesses in the Interlake have faced tourism challenges before.

Aaron’s on the Lake, a bed and breakfast in Winnipeg Beach, had almost all of its bookings cancelled when the pandemic first hit — but the season was saved when the push to vacation locally hit.

“Local Manitobans started coming out and supporting us and then they would go home and tell neighbours and friends so then they would come out and stay with us,” said Eleanore McMahon, an owner of the bed and breakfast. “So we really did have a silver lining.”

Unlike the bed and breakfast, which already has a good number of bookings for the season, the local shops and restaurants don’t know what business will be like.

Though it is a worry, many are keeping a positive attitude, choosing to believe gas prices will encourage travellers to pick locations closer to home rather than deter them from making the trip altogether.

“It’s the closest beach to Winnipeg. I’m sure a lot of people find us a short distance to be able to come out at least to the beaches like Winnipeg Beach, Gimli and all the closest places. We’re hoping,” Makiaris said. 

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