One of Andre Brandt’s favorite hobbies, and one he enjoys during the coronavirus pandemic, is taking a short drive from The Pas, Man., To take photos and pictures of the brilliant Milky Way and the Northern Lights.
“It is quite difficult to beat our skies,” says the photographer and cameraman who lives in The Pas, about 520 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg.
Although flights are canceled, borders are closed, and travel restrictions apply, Brandt says there are places across the province that are big contenders for family vacations this summer.
“There are so many little gems hidden around Manitoba,” says Brandt, who documents some of his favorites on his Instagram page. “I would like to see people come in and experience them.”
Representatives of the Manitoba tourism industry are asking other people living in the province to follow Brandt’s advice this year and to spend their vacation days and travel budgets within the borders.
With a value of around $ 1.6 billion annually, tourism in the province is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Colin Ferguson, President and CEO of Travel Manitoba.
“At best, we will probably see a 30 percent drop, and at worst probably double,” he said in an interview with CBC Manitoba. Information radio earlier this week.
Ferguson says areas heavily dependent on travelers from outside the province, such as Churchill, are suffering the worst.
In response to this significant drop in revenue, Travel Manitoba is changing its advertising messages to attract local, rather than international, tourists.
A campaign, Explore Manitoba From Home, was developed to help people find inspiration, experiences, and ways to support local communities during the pandemic.
“We have incredible attractions, we have incredible things to see and do in our own province, and our summers are perhaps the best anywhere in Canada,” said Ferguson.
In the past two weeks, the message from Manitoba public health officials has gone from “staying home” to “staying safe.”
International travel is highly unlikely to be possible this summer, and inter-provincial travel will be challenging as some parts of the country are more affected than Manitoba, Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief of public health, said at a conference on press on Friday.
Currently, most people traveling outside of Manitoba must isolate themselves for 14 days upon their return.
CLOCK | Dr. Roussin on traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic:
For those traveling within Manitoba, Roussin recommends the usual safety precautions: physical distance and hand hygiene. He also recommends anyone to go camping or to a gas cabin near home, and bring everything you need to minimize contact with others.
“Certainly don’t travel if you don’t feel well,” he said.
He added that people who are over 65 or are immunocompromised should stay home as much as possible for their own safety.
Where to go
For those who can travel, Brandt says that some of the province’s most underrated places are in northern Manitoba.
Although traveling above the 53rd parallel is restricted at this time, it’s nice that people living in that region, like Brandt, can enjoy the sights and sounds.
This summer, instead of leaving the province or country, he plans to explore parts of northern Manitoba that he has never seen before, including yurts in Clearwater Lake Provincial Park, just outside The Pas, where the lake is clear enough. to see in the background, 11 meters below.
He also plans to hike between Pisew Falls and Kwasitchewan Falls near Thompson, which requires camping in remote areas.
“That is definitely at the top of my list.”
One of Brandt’s favorite places to kayak is Bakers Narrows, near Flin Flon.
“There are so many nice places and tons of water. You can camp wherever you want,” Brandt said.
He says he wants to try to return to Churchill, where he previously lived for four years, because it is one of his favorite places to photograph the Northern Lights.
When visiting the south, Brandt enjoys visiting Gimli and Hecla, but he also drives through the Swan River valley near Brandon to see old abandoned country houses.
Winnipeg photographer April Carandang, also known as Peggrammer on Instagram, had a trip to Asia planned for this summer, which is now canceled.
He usually loves to capture photos from different local festivals and outdoor concerts, also off the table this summer.
Despite these disappointments, Carandang is happy to take day trips out of town to visit some of Manitoba’s provincial parks.
“We have really nice and beautiful provincial parks that are close to Winnipeg. It is just a matter of trying to find them and do some research,” he said.
She plans to visit Grand Beach with her young nieces and also visit St. Malo Provincial Park.
Carandang also hopes to visit the Sandilands Provincial Forest in southeast Manitoba, to hike through the hills of sand that were created after the glaciers retreated and deposited rocks and huge amounts of sand.
“Imagine having that in the middle of Manitoba! Previously you didn’t even know it,” he said.
Places to visit in Winnipeg
For those who want to stay in the city, the options are even more limited than they were before the pandemic.
However, some attractions are operating, and Ferguson says he has heard of others working to make his facilities comply with provincial guidelines.
Ferguson recommends visiting the new exhibits at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which has just reopened to visitors this week.
He added that some trails will reopen at Fort Whyte Alive on May 11.
Whether you’re vacationing in a hammock in your backyard or taking a camping trip with your family, Brandt encourages everyone to get out.
“I hope everyone can unplug their phones and see all that Manitoba has to offer.”