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LETTER: Alberta’s new tourism strategy falls short, to say the least

LETTER: After five years of development and consultation, I was expecting much more substance from the new provincial tourism strategy.


After five years of development and consultation, I was expecting much more substance from the new provincial tourism strategy.

The good news is, the UCP has included Indigenous tourism as one of the key pillars of the strategy. I think this is great. Investing in Indigenous-led tourism is an incredibly important part of reconciliation and celebrating Alberta. I’m always encouraged to see initiatives that reflect this.

The bad news is, the remaining four pillars of the strategy are not nearly comprehensive enough to address some key issues being faced by the province’s tourism sector.

Firstly, while the strategy mentions sustainable and regenerative tourism as concepts, it fails to define them as a key pillar or discuss how these concepts will be integrated into the strategy. This is particularly important in the context of climate change and extreme weather events.

Alberta is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, but without a healthy environment, our tourism potential decreases. Therefore, a tourism strategy that fails to consider the effects and implications of our climate crisis is not an effective tourism strategy.

The strategy fails to provide any direction for the tourism sector to be engaged in emergency planning and risk assessments associated with wildfire, drought, or other weather events. This is a serious oversight given that the sector is highly impacted by these events if tourists need to be evacuated, or if people from out of province are displaced to Alberta in large numbers.

The strategy also proposes a new all-season, year-round resort development policy, but fails to consider other more important policies. For example, Alberta is in desperate need of a policy that defines tourism-based economies and provides financial support for communities to develop and maintain the infrastructure needed to host the world – a cost that often exceeds the budget of a rural community with a small tax base.

Another major oversight in this strategy is the lack of funding for affordable or non-market housing. While it’s great to address the labour shortages in tourism with an improved immigration stream, people can’t stay and work here if they can’t find somewhere to live.

Ultimately, the plan fails to account for a variety of crises facing Alberta which deeply affect the tourism industry and misses key opportunities to improve the industry through much-needed policy.

Sarah Elmeligi,

Banff-Kananaskis MLA

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