The Visitor Services Innovation Fund (VSIF), which was successfully piloted in 2017, focuses on helping visitors receive trip-planning information in more innovative ways to enhance their travel experience.
The program supports the province’s visitor services providers by helping modernize how they deliver travel information and trip-planning services so information is available when, where and how visitors want it.
All visitor services providers in Alberta are encouraged to apply for grant funding. The deadline for applications is Feb. 7.
“Based on the success of the pilot, we are excited to continue the program, empower our tourism industry partners and help ensure visitors to the province have a great travel experience. From special events and great restaurants to local museums and landmarks off the beaten track, visitor services are the link between travellers and a great Alberta experience. We want to encourage more innovative ideas to help visitor services providers inspire and engage visitors.”
The VSIF will provide grants of up to $7,000 to individual organizations providing visitor services and up to $16,000 to those that partner to develop new ways to connect with more tourists in Alberta. Visitor services providers are the initial point of contact for many people travelling in Alberta and have the opportunity to influence visitors to extend their stays and try new experiences.
In 2017, the VSIF awarded 18 communities across the province with approximately $107,000 in funding. Project highlights include:
- Chinook Country Tourism Association and Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce engaged an additional 2,077 and 650 visitors, respectively, through the use of mobile visitor information centres.
- Fort McMurray Tourism used a mobile tricycle in various areas across the community to engage with and provide travel information to visitors. The organization noted a 43 per cent increase in visitor engagements as a result.
- Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau offered mobile and social media counselling to be more accessible to visitors and provide convenient services. This resulted in a 35 per cent increase in engagements from June 1 to Aug. 31, 2017 (32,500 visitors).
- Tourism development helps diversify the economy, create jobs and encourage investment in communities across the province.
- In 2015, more than 34 million people visited Alberta and spent $8.1 billion (Statistics Canada).