Following two years that saw tourism and tourism-based communities struggle in the province due to the pandemic, Alberta’s tourism industry is experiencing a comeback.
To further help tourism-related businesses recover, Alberta’s government changed the mandate of Travel Alberta to a destination management organization. With this expanded role, Travel Alberta can better work directly with communities, businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new tourism experiences, products and destinations.
The agency is also working with airlines and airports to identify routes and opportunities for future growth. Many domestic routes have returned and Travel Alberta is working to reinvigorate international routes.
“Alberta’s tourism sector is a key driver of revenue and jobs. When we talk about economic recovery, growth and diversification, tourism is one of the key industries we look to. I am confident that the work we’re doing will reposition the sector for future and sustained growth and will accelerate the sector’s recovery and help get it back to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.”
Alberta’s three-year tourism strategy, also known as the Bootstrap Plan, is centred around three pillars: marketing, air access and destination development. Together, the three pillars target every step in the process to grow Alberta’s tourism sector. By making strategic investments into each area, the government ensures that businesses throughout the tourism industry are positioned for high recovery and growth.
“The past two years have been very difficult for Alberta’s visitor economy. We have been engaging with members and businesses in the tourism sector regularly to ensure that, as Alberta’s economy recovers, they are not just a part of that recovery but are helping lead the way.”
With its new mandate, Alberta’s government has also increased Travel Alberta’s budget by $63 million over three years. These additional investments will position Travel Alberta to support economic recovery through the delivery of coordinated programs and services, as well as support and position Alberta for strategic, responsible and sustainable growth.
Over the next three years, Travel Alberta will invest more than $50 million to enhance and grow visitor products and experiences. This investment includes $3.75 million toward Indigenous tourism. Last year, Travel Alberta provided $12.1 million in direct support to 225 businesses. This means more opportunities for Albertans, and national and international visitors, to explore our province and have hands-on experiences.
“We are proud to support entrepreneurs and communities to strengthen the visitor experience, building on our global reputation as a must-see destination.”
Two programs are focused on strengthening businesses, experiences and communities in order to attract more visitors. Both programs fall under the destination development pillar and are currently accepting applications for funding.
Travel Alberta’s Product Investment Fund will provide up to $500,000 to support business growth and experience enhancement. Businesses, municipalities and startups can apply for funding to help them create new tours and experiences, purchase or build venues, or become more environmentally sustainable, for example.
The Cooperative Investment Fund will provide up to $100,000 to support rural and smaller communities to grow tourism revenue through workforce development, marketing and cultural activities, including events and festivals.
“Travel Alberta has been a key partner with Burwood Distillery over the years as we have grown and expanded. During the pandemic, we took time to re-evaluate our guest experience offerings and decided to really focus on rebuilding and expanding this part of the business. We have now secured the historic Stables Building in Currie Barracks where we will soon be offering tours of our distillery, a partner brewery (Vaycay Brewing Co.), and feature novel guest experiences such as ‘Make-Your-Own Gin classes’ and ‘A Hands-On Introduction to Alberta Beekeeping.’ As we continue to build Alberta as a unique and diverse beverage tourism destination, we are extremely excited for this new array of tourism experiences coming to Calgary in the fall of 2022.”