BOW VALLEY – Local tourism destination marketing organizations in the valley are welcoming an announcement of financial support for the industry this week by Travel Alberta.
On Monday (June 22), Travel Alberta announced $17 million to help the tourism industry and in particular the local and regional organizations that market provincial destinations.
The funding comes from three new federal and provincial programs for destination management organizations (DMO) and businesses directed toward key areas of need for the industry.
Banff and Lake Louise Tourism (BLLT) president and CEO Leslie Bruce welcomed the funding available through the $4 million Alberta COVID-19 operational relief program for DMOs and the $4 million Destination Canada domestic funding program.
"This news is transformational for Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, and essential to our ability to rebuild demand and maintain critical programs that support Banff and Lake Louise, where the primary economic driver is tourism," Bruce wrote in an email to the Outlook.
"We are grateful to Western Economic Diversification Canada and Travel Alberta for this funding that will help sustain our operation and drive local, domestic and international visitation to help get our tourism economy thriving again."
The operational relief program is funded through Western Economic Diversification ($1.45 million) and Travel Alberta ($2.55 million) and provides temporary operational funding to nine of the province's primary DMOs, including: BLLT, Tourism Canmore Kananaskis (TCK), Tourism Calgary, Edmonton Tourism, Tourism Jasper, as well as the DMOs for Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Grande Prairie and Wood Buffalo.
TCK's interim CEO Rachel Ludwig said the funding is appreciated during this financially challenging time.
"With the devastating effects of COVID-19 on our member businesses and the resulting effect to TCK, this will allow us to continue our operations, and support our stakeholders in a meaningful way," Ludwig wrote in an email.
Travel Alberta board of directors chair Linda Southern-Heathcott said in a press release that a recent survey of the industry identified areas of need.
"In a recent COVID-19 industry assessment survey conducted by Travel Alberta, tourism partners clearly told us which support systems will have the greatest impact in helping them remain viable and adapt to the changes resulting from COVID-19, including operational funding and marketing support," she said.
"These programs help address these needs and are critically important to the rebuild of Alberta's tourism industry and visitor economy."
The Destination Canada funding program provides a one-time contribution to the four largest DMOs in Alberta: BLLT, Tourism Calgary, Edmonton Tourism and Tourism Jasper.
Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Tanya Fir recognized tourism as the fourth largest employment sector in the province.
"Travel Alberta is taking action to address important needs, support destination management organizations and tourism businesses, and accelerate our tourism industry's recovery," Fir said in a press release.
There is also a $5 million Travel Alberta cooperative investment program to support private sector tourism businesses, municipalities and non-profits. There are two funding streams: product or experience development and a partnership marketing investment.
Ludwig noted that members of TCK will benefit from a $100,000 relaunch marketing campaign that is partially funded through the marketing investment program.
"The campaign will put a Canmore spin on Travel Alberta's 'Worth the Wait' messaging and will be focusing on Alberta residents primarily, and will expand to B.C. and Saskatchewan once inter-provincial travel is allowed," she said. "With COVID-19 still a valid concern, the campaign will be highly adaptable to reflect current realities."
Applications are being accepted until June 30, 2020.