Gateway Gazette

Province Marks Tourism Week and Record Numbers

Albertans are encouraged to get out, explore and celebrate everything the province has to offer during Tourism Week May 28 to June 3.

Camping in Alberta

Tourism Week also highlights Alberta’s reputation as a world-renowned tourist destination as visitors flocked to the province’s national parks with record-breaking visitation last year.

Newly released data from the Alberta Tourism Market Monitor shows the province’s national parks experienced record visitation in 2016 – the highest since 2004 – and the Alberta Resorts region also set a record high occupancy rate last year.

Banff welcomed about four million visitors (including group tours), up by 4.7 per cent from 2015. Jasper had more than two million visitors (including group tours), increasing almost four per cent from 2015, and Waterton Lakes saw more than a half million visitors in 2016, jumping by 12.9 per cent over 2015.

“Albertans should be proud of their dynamic and resilient tourism industry. Whether Albertans are enjoying staycations, or visitors are coming for a holiday, tourism continues to spur economic growth, creates jobs, and make lives better for Albertans.”

Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism

“Destination-marketing strategies work because industry partners work together to create memorable experiences for visitors and residents alike. Tourism Week is an opportunity to showcase successful outcomes from these partnerships and to celebrate the growing contribution our industry makes to our beautiful province.”

Royce Chwin, Chief Executive Officer, Travel Alberta

The tourism industry is comprised of over 19,000 businesses that support more than 127,000 jobs across the province.

According to Statistics Canada, more than 34 million visitors to Alberta spent $8.1 billion in 2015.

Travellers from other provinces in Canada led Alberta’s tourism sector numbers in 2015. Spending and visitation from other provinces increased by 8.3 and 4.6 per cent, respectively, over 2014 – the most this segment has grown since 2012. Visitation and spending from the United States and international markets remained strong, with 1.8 million travellers spending $1.9 billion in 2015.

With Alberta’s economy continuing its recovery and free admission to all national parks in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, visitation to the province is expected to grow again this year.

The Government of Alberta continues to make strategic investments to expand the tourism industry and maximize opportunities. Key tourism investments include:

  • The Tourism Entrepreneurship Program – provides tools and services to help entrepreneurs start new tourism businesses and help existing tourism entrepreneurs innovate, expand or refresh their operations.
  • The Visitor Services Innovation Fund – enables communities across the province to reach and engage more people through the enhancement of tourism technologies.
  • The Alberta Parks Capital Plan – will invest $54.2 million this year for improvements to campgrounds. The investment is part of the Government of Alberta’s five-year Parks Capital Plan, which was launched in 2016. The plan calls for $239 million to revitalize and expand the provincial parks system after years of underfunding that left shelters, roads and sewers in poor condition.
  • The Cooperative Marketing Investment Program – supports the growth of Alberta’s tourism industry by investing in Alberta industry-led marketing initiatives to increase their marketing capacity, resulting in increased tourism revenues.
  • Indigenous tourism development – Alberta recently partnered with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada (ATAC) by providing grant funding to help grow tourism businesses for the province’s First Nations and Métis communities. The grant represents the first time ATAC has received funding from a provincial or territorial government.

Tourism Week in Canada is a grassroots initiative by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada that brings attention to the economic opportunities available through travel and tourism.

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