Federal grant supports Brandon University study of COVID-19 effect on local tourism

September 21, 2020

Three men stand on an outdoor stage under a bandstand
Brandon University professors (left to right) Derrek Eberts, Doug Ramsey and Christopher Malcolm stand while socially distanced on the Festival Park stage at Brandon's Riverbank Discovery Centre. Festival Park, like many entertainment venues in southwestern Manitoba, has gone largely unused this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A special federal fund is supporting a Brandon University (BU) research project examining the impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism industry in southwestern Manitoba.

The researchers have been awarded $16,880 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through a special COVID-19 initiative of the Partnership Engage Grants program. The funding received by Dr. Doug Ramsey of the Department of Rural Development and Drs. Christopher Malcolm and Derrek Eberts of Geography and Environment, is coupled with a BU student research training award of $5,000.

An initiative within the Tourism Research Centre at Brandon University, the project will partner the BU researchers with the City of Brandon, Travel Manitoba, Tourism Westman, and the Association Manitoba Museums in the study. The initiative includes a number of research areas including the impacts of COVID-19 on small town museums, the event-based tourism sector, and outdoor recreation. The researchers also hope to learn how the tourism and recreation sector has responded to the pandemic, and how they plan for future recovery and success.

“In addition to its vital economic role in Southwestern Manitoba, tourism is also a means for many communities to maintain and to share their culture and heritage,” says Ramsey, who is the project lead.

“The impact of COVID-19 is complex in that it led to the summer of the ‘stay-cation,’ but also deprived many communities of visitors from outside the region, while coronavirus precautions and gathering limits were devastating for a lot of the events and fundraising activities that these attractions rely on.”

As noted by Dr. Eberts, “We submitted the application in mid-June. Since that time, there have been so many changes related to gatherings and travel. Our first step is to meet with our partners to identify their research needs.”

Dr. Malcom added, “It seems evident that some areas and sectors of tourism gained with the ‘stay-cation’ summer, however, we are very concerned about other areas, including facilities such as the Keystone Centre and related businesses and services in Brandon.”

On Monday, more than $4 million in federal funding was announced for 172 research projects across Canada through the SSHRC’s PEG program. More than $3 million of that funding will go to 139 projects that are studying the impacts of COVID-19.

For more information, please contact:

Doug Ramsey
Professor and Chair, Rural Development
204.571.8514
Ramsey@BrandonU.ca

Rob Henderson
Marketing Communications Officer
204.727.9762
HendersonR@BrandonU.ca