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How I Would Revive Regina’s Tourism Industry

How I Would Revive Regina’s Tourism Industry

· 13 min. read

The year is 2022 and the COVID-19 pandemic was so last decade. Regina, like most cities, is trying to revive its incapacitated tourism industry. People want to go to festivals and concerts but are still leery about getting too close to strangers. After all, they might not have COVID, but they might have something else, you know?

But Regina is special. They will be hosting the first Grey Cup in three years (sorry Steve). People will be swarming into the city from across the country ? and beyond ? to celebrate the great game of football. Every sports camera in the country will be watching the city.

But just like before the pandemic, Tourism Regina is underfunded. It is staffed by passionate, determined, hard-working individuals, but they do not have the funding to prop-up a battered tourism industry alone. Instead, grassroots programs and small businesses must take the lead. So, with that in mind, here are some ways I would improve Regina's tourism industry in 2022 and beyond.

Flying over Regina

Food Tours

The concept of a food tour is simple. It is like a bar crawl, but instead, it involves food. But if it so simple, why don't we have any?

We have the restaurants available to do food tours in the Warehouse District, Cathedral Village, Downtown Regina, Germantown, and many, many others. People can walk the streets of the city, drop by a local restaurant, try some handmade artesian food, learn about the business, and carry on to the next stop.

Food in Regina

The food tour company (if there was one, but it could also be funded by something like RWBID or RDBID) could split the ticket prices with the restaurants so that they do not lose any profit. This would also lead to great exposure. Wouldn't it be great to hear somebody from Saskatoon or Calgary say "You need to check out this place in Regina" for once?

It seems every city has a food tour. Kingston, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Medicine Hat, Calgary, and Victoria all have them. Why doesn't Regina?

More food in Regina

Halloween Celebrations

Halloween in Regina kinda sucks. I'm sorry, but it does. If you want to celebrate Halloween and you live in Regina, you are probably going to Lumsden. Not only do they have multiple corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses, but they also have a freaking Scarecrow Festival!

Regina has pumpkin carvings in shopping malls.

I think it would be spooktacular to turn Scarth Street into a "Halloween Alley" on October 30th. People can dress up in costume and wander from restaurant to restaurant while "Spooky Scary Skeletons" blasts over a loudspeaker. We could also have a screening of scary movies in Victoria Park, with the early show being something child friendly but the later show being a bloody slasher film.

We could do what other cities do too and offer coffin rides around Wascana Park. It would be absolutely bone-chilling to be pulled by giant Clydesdale horses and a mysterious man in a cloak. We do it at Christmas time (minus the coffins) and the horses are probably even happier to do it in the fall.

Coffin Rides

And I know this is a long shot, but why not do what every other decently sized municipality in Canada has and offer, I don't know, a cemetery tour? When I spoke to former mayor Pat Fiacco about them a few summers ago, he told me the first thing he does when he visits a new city is going on their cemetery tour. It is too bad Regina doesn't have one.

Regina Cemetery Tour

Historical Re-enactments

Did you know that less than an hour outside of Regina, there are historical re-enactments of gangsters, organized crime, and smuggling? The Moose Jaw Tunnels are a country-wide attraction.

But a lot of the talent comes from Regina. We have a booming drama and arts scene. Why not get local performers to re-enact the day of the Regina Cyclone or famous trials like that of The Stephenson Brothers or John Morrison? Twenty-six people have been tried and executed in Regina since 1884, and twice they have been double executions. Why not re-enact these final moments, talk about capital punishment, discuss the legal system in early Saskatchewan or educate people on the systematic racism that lead many of these men to be killed?

Execution of John Morrison

(I know we already have one of Louis Riel. But I meant like, other ones too.)

Or we could just have early 20th Century cosplayers wander the parks and take pictures with tourists. They could talk about the good ol' days when people could swim in Wascana Park without worrying about growing an extra fin. They could talk about the failed Chateau Qu'Appelle Hotel or the plan to raze downtown and rebuilt it. Wouldn't it be neat to have some source of local history in downtown Regina? Because right now there isn't one.

Anything Involving Krampus

Every year we have a Santa Claus Parade? but why not have a Krampus parade too? Regina has one of the largest German populations in Canada per capita. Our city was built on German culture. Germantown is one of the most influential and colourful parts of Regina's history. Why not bust out the horns, the fur, the chains, the flames and go trotting down Albert Street? I know the German Club has many of the things needed to make this happen, and I would absolutely love to see a bunch of horned, anthropomorphic figures walking around Regina at night.

GermanclubMaypole in Regina

(More than usual, I mean.)

(Just kidding.)

A Winter Celebration

You know how locals celebrate winter in Regina? By going to Mexico. But what is so wrong with being here? Yes, it is cold and icy and snowy, but it's like other places too. Other places such as Edmonton, Winnipeg, Quebec City, and even (wait for it) Fort Qu'Appelle all have ice castles. No, you can't spend the night in all of them, but you don't have to in ours either.

Regina has access to sub-zero temperatures and a large body of water. Why not carve out some ice and built a castle with it? Wascana Park is twice as big as Stanley Park and three times as big as New York's Central Park but besides freezing your butt off, there is nothing to do there in the winter.

Wascana Lake in the winter

Another idea is turning the tennis courts behind the Legislative Building into an ice rink and hot chocolate station. You can drop by, get some hot chocolate, sit by a rink, and enjoy the winter. Saskatoon has a hot chocolate station near their ice rinks. Do we have any?

Another similarly cold place to Regina is Calgary. But Calgary has lined Stephen Avenue and the Bow River Pathway with pyres for visitors to drop by and warm up. If Calgary can do this, why not Regina? We could even dye our fires green so that we can stick it to Calgary.

Less Parking Lots, More Parks

Make downtown Regina green again! For nearly a century downtown Regina was filled with parks, but somebody with a vendetta against Big Yellow Taxi and Vanessa Carlton changed all that. They tore down the beautiful City Hall and covered the park with a boring glass building. Then they systemically cut out every piece of grass except for Victoria Park. Did you know Victoria Avenue used to have tree-lined boulevards? They have them now, thanks to a government initiative to plant several thousand trees throughout the city, but they had them before too. Personally, I'm glad we spent several million dollars undoing something we did a few decades ago.

Victoria Avenue in the 1940s

Thanks to a failed hotel project and two unfortunate fires (RIP Wonderland) we have a lot of open land available in downtown too. Why not do what Medicine Hat did, and turn those into outdoor plazas? Make them places to eat, play, and enjoy downtown, Regina? You could even turn the side of the North Canadian Oils Building (the one beside the old Capitol Pointe Hole? Yeah, I didn't know it had a name either) into a giant mural. Nothing screams "we have an art scene!" like a 14-story piece of art.

But isn't downtown Regina super noisy? Yes, but thanks to things like tactical urbanism, we know that if we slow down traffic or change lanes into bike lanes, vehicles will avoid an area. What would happen if we reduced traffic speeds downtown to 40 kilometers an hour instead of 50? It's a heavily congested area, just like 13th Avenue. Could you imagine a quiet, artsy, cute downtown, instead of the roaring maelstrom we have now? Fewer vehicles do not mean fewer people. If downtown is a pleasant, fun place to be, people will come.

Regina Circle Square Plaza

Obviously, some of these ideas will never happen. Things like food tours and Krampus are realistic, but cemetery tours? C'mon. It's too bad though. As somebody who has lived in Regina my entire life, I see a lot of people trying to make this city a better place to be and it pains me to see the city not get the recognition it deserves. But when you underfund local tourism, you get road trips to Lumsden in the fall and flights to Mexico in the winter.

So tell me, what would you do to bring tourism to Regina? As always, let me know in the comments below.

Also, if you're interested in what you can do in Regina, check out my list of 100+ things you can do in Regina!

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How I Would Revive Regina's Tourism IndustryHow I Would Revive Regina's Tourism Industry

Categories: Canada, Regina, Saskatchewan

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