It cost us whaaaat?

You might not realize it but your tax dollars are spent by the millions (attempting) to promote your province. Governments blow your taxes to market and showcase to the world what a fine province it is.

Is it money well spent?

Winnipeg was front and centre in national headlines twice in recent weeks. And no, not for being the home of Winnie the Pooh – that’s so ’80s.

Toronto mayor Rob Ford was caught on video chatting up a tourist when Ford asked where she had visited in Canada. She said it was the city across the river from Detroit.

“Oh, Manitoba? You were in Manitoba? Winnipeg?” Ford said. Cue game show wrong answer buzzer.

Next, a Winnipeg bus driver did a good deed by giving a homeless man a pair of shoes as he was driving the bus. The bus driver and mayor of Winnipeg appeared on a national U.S. morning show with the caption “Winnipeg, Ontario.” This time the game show buzzer goes to Travel Manitoba for clearly not promoting the province and city as it should.

Ask most Canadians – even life-long Manitobans – if they know what Spirited Energy is and you’ll probably get a blank stare. That was a $2-million campaign in Manitoba back in 2007 that people still don’t understand.

Earlier in the year Live with Kelly! broadcast from Banff and it cost a lot of money. While the branding made Canadians cringe (constantly referring to it as Banff, Alberta, Canada) the biggest cringe-worthy note was Travel Alberta spending $1.5 million to bring the American morning show to Canada.

But a rep at Travel Alberta was quick to point out only $800,000 was actually paid by the organization. The rest came from regional partners. Much better, right? And did the area see a dramatic increase in tourism following that promotion? Not from what I’ve been told.

In terms of full disclosure, when my syndicated radio shows broadcast from certain travel hotspots, the local tourism boards cover the cost of the trip. They pay the airfare and negotiate with hotels and local businesses to furnish complimentary access. While the tourism boards are still technically paying for the trip, they are not paying me directly and it’s definitely not costing them more than a couple thousand dollars.

Next time you pass a hungry homeless person, or a child running outside without shoes, just think how the province might not be helping them, but helping bring others to the area for an enjoyable time.

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