Manitoba Gets Serious About Tourism, Meetings For the first time in more than 10 years, tourism and economic development leaders in Manitoba met to discuss the future of the province's tourism industry. A big part of the meeting, held in Winnipeg in November and drawing nearly 500 delegates, focused on plans for the 1999 Pan Am Games. The games, which will be held in Winnipeg and other areas of Manitoba, are expected to be the third-largest sporting event ever held in North America.

One initiative Manitoba is taking is to advertise the province as a place where "some of the planet's last great wilderness experiences await you." A booklet, "Manitoba: Your Natural Incentive, An Adventure in Nature," can be ordered from Travel Manitoba at (800) 665-0040. It highlights unique programs for groups wishing to explore this 250,000-square-mile province with 100,000 lakes, many wild rivers, and a northern ocean.

A safari on the tundra to see polar bears in season or scuba diving with Beluga whales at the mouth of the Churchill River are but two of the activities the province can offer incentive groups. Winnipeg, the capital city, provides a cultural springboard for adventure in Manitoba. The city of 620,000 people boasts the largest multicultural festival in North America (Folklorama), more than 1,000 restaurants, and is one of only a handful of North American cities with professional companies in all of the major performing arts.

NEWS FROM CANADA'S TRAVEL AND TOURISM FRONTS *Business travel to Canada increased 2.3 percent in 1996 over 1995, while U.S. business traveler expenditures rose 7.3 percent, according to the latest year-end data from Statistics Canada. The news was not as good for non-business travel into Canada, which saw a decline of .7 percent in 1996. However, expenditures of the non-business visitors increased 13.9 percent for the same period.

*The latest in a series of initiatives aimed at making Canada a four-season travel destination took place in Quebec City in February 1998. The International Winter Tourism Forum discussed ways to capitalize on the country's winter attractions, such as world-class skiing and a variety of adventure travel activities. One challenge: The general perception is that winters in Canada are very cold and snowy, which is not the case for all parts of the country. (Did you know the best time to go diving off Vancouver Island is in winter?)

*In other tourism-related news, the Tourism Industry of Canada (TIAC) has announced its three major legislative objectives for 1998: 1) Continue to push for a market-driven air transportation industry, allowing airlines to offer the range of prices and services that will stimulate air travel. 2) Cut red tape at the border to allow for freer flow of tourists from established markets. 3) Create safer, more efficient road travel. The Convention and Incentive Travel Association of Canada merged with TIAC in November 1997.

OTTAWA ENTRY EASIER Ottawa's International Airport has a new U.S. Customs and Immigration pre-clearance facility. This means that passengers flying to Ottawa from the U.S. can go directly to domestic terminals, and passengers flying back to the U.S. can pre-clear customs in Ottawa.

SEARCHING FOR SPEAKERS IN CANADA? The National Speakers Bureau is the largest sole agent for Canada's most recognizable names, according to the bureau. Some of the speakers represented include demographic analyst Daniel Stoffman, stress expert Doctor Kerry Crofton, and millionaire entrepreneur Fran O'Dea. For more information or to obtain a directory of the agency's speakers, call (604) 224-2384, fax (604) 224-8906, or visit the group's Web site at www.nsb.com.

HOTELS IN THE NEWS Ground was broken in the fall on the construction of the 400-room Canadian Pacific's Vancouver Airport Hotel, with completion slotted for spring 1998. It will be an unusual airport hotel in that it will not only have 1,590 square feet of meeting space, but also a fine dining restaurant with seating for 200 persons and a full-service spa, including an indoor pool.

The Dominion 1912 is a new boutique-style hotel in the historic section of Quebec City. Housed in the old Fish and Fruit Limited office building built in 1912, the hotel consists of 40 luxury rooms on ten floors.

Intrawest Corporation is adding can$500 million to its investment in the year-old Mont Tremblant resort, in Tremblant, Quebec. The year-round resort, ranked first in Eastern North America by Ski Magazine, is getting two more championship golf courses, an equestrian center, expanded recreation trails, a new beach, and more tennis facilities.