2018 has been a banner year for Regina’s events and tourism industries. The city has hosted some of the largest events in its history, both in terms of size and scope, and the number of new visitors to Regina has reflected this. With a wealth of world-class facilities and an army of ready volunteers, Regina is quickly become a go-to destination for major national and international events and, as a result, global tourism. It is Regina spirit and rallying, community-minded nature however that serves as the magic ingredient for the success of these major events.
“2018 was a phenomenal year for Regina. We had the opportunity to showcase our city to a range of visitors coming for world-class sporting events, a national academic conference, and those coming to explore our unique experiences and attractions,” said Tourism Regina’s Ashely Stone. “It’s always such a positive experience when we can demonstrate all the wonderful assets of our city to those who may not have come if it was not for one of these events and conventions that were won. Those are people who now have a positive impression of a city we always knew was great.”
The year began with a double feature as Regina played host to both the U-Sports National Women’s Basketball Tournament at the University of Regina and the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier at the Brandt Center. Some of the best basketball players from across the county descended on the city, competing at the U of R Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport. The centre itself was built to host the Canada Summer Games in 2005, and remains one of the country’s best on-campus sporting facilities. During the same week, the Time Hortons Brier, Canada’s national men’s curling championship, took place only a few short minutes away. The nine-day tournament brought over 5,000 visitors to Regina and generated $10M in economic impact for the city. Between these two events, Regina’s hotel occupancy shot to an incredible 85% in March, compared to 55% the previous year.
This was just the beginning of an eventful (and event-filled) year for Regina. Only a few months later, the city hosted the WHL Memorial Cup for its 100th anniversary. The event generated another $11M in economic spinoff for the city, with nearly 50,000 fans in attendance. The tournament final was a sold-out success, with those not lucky enough to score tickets crowding outside the arena to watch the game on large screens.
However, the Queen City’s crown jewel was still to come. In August Regina saw perhaps it’s most-viewed event ever, rivalling even its hosting of the 2013 Grey Cup. The LPGA CP Women’s Open brought 89 of the top 100 female golfers on the planet to the city to tee off at the Wascana Country Club. The event brought out an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 from across the country, filling local hotels and Airbnbs. While the large number of attendees was impressive, it dwarfed in comparison to the 200 million to 500 million TV viewers around the world tuning in on the Golf Channel.
“Ever since I first got here (Regina), it’s like the city, the club, and the province rolled out the red carpet for us, so you felt welcome. They made you feel a part of their city and a part of their province,” said Bill Paul, Chief Championship Officer for Golf Canada. “You just felt like it was going to be a success because of the way that people treated you…It’s been the most welcoming experience that I’ve ever had”.
The momentum of Regina’s events sector has paid significant dividends in tourism. Based on positive trends in recent years, Tourism Regina anticipated 2.45 million visitors to Regina in 2017. In reality, close to 2.49 million people visited Regina, making Tourism’s goal of 2.5 million annual visitors by 2020 seem like a conservative estimate. With a whopping $315M in visitor spending in Regina recorded for 2017, it can be assumed that the momentous success of so many major events in 2018 will boost this number even higher.
Without a doubt, Regina has proven that it can serve as a world-class host for events of all sizes. It’s a city that is compact enough to make navigation and logistics a breeze. It’s a city that boasts a wide range of phenomenal facilities which rival those in much larger urban centres. More than anything, it’s a city with heart and a welcoming spirit. Events thrive in Regina because of its people, who make it their business each and every day to come together in a community of support.