Tourism town hall held in City this week

  • May. 11, 2016 2:42 p.m.

Provincial tourism officials included Red Deer on their recent town call circuit to discuss programs and explore ways to collaborate.

“Annually, Travel Alberta along with our partners at Alberta Culture and Tourism and the local destination marketing partners pull together a series of town halls throughout Alberta,” said Travel Alberta CEO Royce Chwin.

“It’s a real opportunity for our respective teams to get out in front of tourism stakeholders and community members to talk about the current state of tourism, what the broader strategy is, and that’s to grow our tourism industry for Alberta to $10 billion by 2020.

“It’s a big goal, and it require all of us to work together.”

Chwin said the local meeting included a series of presentations about what Alberta Tourism is doing and where the organization is going. A series of roundtables followed. “It really helps facilitate networking.”

Currently, the industry brings in about $8 billion to the Alberta economy each year.

“What are the programs, services and values that we have and can share with and have the industry access and use to help their businesses?”

Town hall sessions also provide forums for discussing strategies to meet the needs of visitors.

“Team Alberta is about partnership. It’s about collaboration,” said Chwin. “It’s about working together for a common goal to inspire travellers to visit here and visit now.”

Tourism is an important economic driver for Alberta supporting 127,000 jobs, and $4 billion in tax revenue to all levels of government (2013 Statistics Canada).

Chwin said the town halls bring together a cross-section of different kinds of tourism representations.

“You have a variety of different people that all make up the fabric of the tourism world.”

“Town halls are an opportunity to participate and collaborate as Team Alberta to create compelling invitations for the world to visit Alberta, and inspire Albertans to keep travelling in Alberta” says Shelley Grollmuss, vice president, Industry Development at Travel Alberta.

Presentations include Travel Alberta’s 2016-2018 strategy overview and Alberta Culture and Tourism programs and services updates.

“What I’ve noticed over the years in coming here is the growing interest in investment in tourism as a viable economic diversifier for Red Deer,” said Chwin. “There are lots of other industries but tourism is a real unsung hero here, and so I’m talking today for example about the Red Deer airport. It’s incredible the increase in flights – something like that adds so much economic opportunity to the region.

“It’s a very different conversation than it was five years ago.”

Chwin said one of the local hotel reps was also chatting to him about the wedding business, and how they are already taking booking well into next year. The Canyon Ski Hill is also seeing a jump in destination weddings there as well.

“That brings in a lot of business. So it’s nice to hear stories of growth happening which also maybe just didn’t get the profile in years past.”

Clearly, there have been economic challenges over the past couple of years. But Chwin said stakeholders are still asking what they can do and what the opportunities are.

“That is the key because there are all kinds of programs and services that exist in marketing help. It’s really incumbent on a community to say, ‘You know what, tourism is viable and we want to get involved.’ And then we can come in and help.”