Important dates

Applications will be accepted by Alberta Culture and Tourism from November 21, 2018 to January 17, 2019.

Successful Applicants will be notified in February 2019 and funds distributed to execute projects in time for the upcoming summer season.

Overview

Visitor Services Innovation Fund provides support to community-based visitor services providers across the province to enable the delivery of innovative and forward-thinking multi-channel visitor services.

Goals of the fund

  • Support the development of innovative and relevant multi-channel visitor services.
  • Ensure visitor services are available when, where and how visitors want them, and that these services respond to the needs of the visitor.
  • Increase productivity and effectiveness of visitor services in the community, the region and the province.
  • Foster a collaborative approach to visitor services to maximize the visitor experience across all channels.

Funding

Your organization can receive up to 75% of the project costs to a maximum of $7,000.

Initiatives involving two or more regional partners are eligible for 75% of the project costs to a maximum of $16,000.

You are responsible for securing the remaining 25% of the project costs.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants

All eligible applicants must:

  • be a legal entity
    •  a not-for-profit organization under the Alberta’s Society Act or Companies Act and have been in operation for at least one year
    •  a Chamber of Commerce formed pursuant to the Boards of Trade Act (Canada)
    •  a municipality
  • not have outstanding reporting or repayment obligations in relations to another Government of Alberta Grant
  • be able to demonstrate that the organization is the official visitor services provider for the municipality or region
  • be able to demonstrate community, local government and industry support
    • for example, letters of support, committee participation
  • make a contribution of at least 25% of the total project cost (cannot include other Alberta Government funding or in-kind contributions)

Ineligible applicants

  • those with outstanding reporting or repayment obligations with another Government of Alberta grant

Eligible projects

Eligible projects and activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • mobile visitor services:
    • purchase of a tent or kiosk
    • signage for mobile centre
    • uniforms for mobile visitor services staff
    • brochure displays for mobile visitor services
    • mileage of $200 maximum based on $0.35/km
  • information kiosks that provide visitor information outside of the visitor information centre (VIC), which is accessible 24 hours
  • support staff to increase community presence for activities provided outside the existing VIC through:
    • street teams
    • ambassador programs
    • roaming counsellors - for activities outside of the existing VIC only and up to a maximum of $15/hr wage
    • staff support cannot exceed 60% of the total grant amount requested
  • technology:
    • upgrading technology to improve visitor experience outside the VIC
    • mobile friendly web enhancements
    • purchase of iPads for use outside of the VIC and digital kiosks
  • community engagement:
    • community/regional product knowledge sessions
    • organizing and hosting a tour of your community or region
  • social media:
    • fees related to social media training
    • tracking tools, analytics and dashboards
  • trip planning tools:
    • route descriptions in other languages
    • fees related to the development of trip planning/travel itinerary builders on websites
  • accessibility:
    • restroom accessibility enhancements and wheelchair ramps
    • braille information services

Ineligible projects, activities and costs

Ineligible projects include:

  • projects unrelated to tourism industry or visitor services
  • consumer-focused asset development, such as:
    • written content
    • photography
    • video production
    • landing pages
    • microsites
  • consumer, travel trade and travel media shows

Ineligible activities include:

  • new corporate and brand identity or content development
  • signage in the visitor centre, unless it is to improve accessibility
  • online marketing initiatives
  • promotional and retail items
  • incentives such as prizes and contests
  • print/online collateral unless it improves accessibility, such as:
    • brochures
    • rack cards
    • flat sheets
    • guides
    • maps
  • market research
  • consumer, travel trade and travel media shows

Ineligible costs include:

  • costs associated with developing and submitting applications
  • non-visitor services website development and site hosting fees
  • travel costs, such as gas and mileage
  • operating/staffing costs to operate the existing VIC
  • staffing costs over and above $15/hr wage
  • expenses incurred prior to the signature of the grant agreement
  • paid advertising

How to apply

Step 1. Read the guidelines

Visitor Services Innovation Fund application package

Step 2. Complete the application package

Include the following in your application package:

  • cover letter from the organization to the Visitor Services Innovation Fund, Tourism and Recreation Division, Alberta Culture and Tourism
  • completed application form
  • letter(s) of support:
    • for not-for-profit organizations and Chamber of Commerces:
      • letters of support from the community and municipality
      • a letter from the municipality recognizing the organization as the official visitor services provider for the community
        • not required if the organization is an accredited visitor services provider through the AVIP Accreditation and Signage Program
    • for municipalities:
      • letters of support from the community integral to the project’s goals and outcomes

Step 3. Submit the application package

Electronic/Paper Applications must be submitted no later than 4:30 pm on January 17, 2018.

Submit applications to:

Mail:
Robin Luini
Manager, Visitor Services
Alberta Culture and Tourism
6th Floor, Commerce Place
10155 102 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4L6

Email: AVIP@gov.ab.ca
Subject: Visitor Services Innovation Fund Application

After you apply

We will review and evaluate all applications based on merit. General timelines for submission and selection is as follows:

  • November 21, 2018 to January 17, 2019, applications received from eligible organizations.
  • Beginning mid January 2019, we will review applications and make funding recommendations for final approval.
  • Mid-February 2019, you will be notified of funding decisions.
    • Grant agreements will be signed.
    • All decisions are final and appeals will not be considered.

A project may start once you sign the Grant Funding Agreement.

Reporting/Conditions

  • All projects must begin by May 1, 2019 and be completed with all grant funds spent by December 31, 2019.
  • You must submit a progress report to Alberta Culture and Tourism no later than July 31, 2019.
  • All successful applicants will be required to submit a final report upon completion of the project, including full accounting for the funds received as well as other reporting requirements as specified in the formal agreement.

Contact

To contact the Visitor Services:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-415-6264
Toll free: 310-0000 (before the number)
Fax: 780-427-0778
Email: AVIP@gov.ab.ca