Travel Alberta has been on a remarkable journey. We’ve come a long way in a short time and transformed the way we connect the world to Alberta.
Travel Alberta’s transition to a legislated Crown corporation in April 2009 was significant, and integral to the success we see today. This change presented a platform for agility, positioned us properly to run our business like a business and set the stage for Alberta’s tourism industry to grow.The decision to move Travel Alberta to a Crown corporation was the result of a government initiated review in March 2007. The review highlighted opportunities to clarify roles and responsibilities, improve efficiency and addresses the issues of accountability and transparency.
Under this new model, and backed by sustainable funding through the Tourism Levy, Travel Alberta would effectively and efficiently promote the province as a top tourism destination both at home and around the world. As a Crown corporation we would also support the Alberta government in the development of tourism policy, advocacy, research, visitor services and product development.
The transition was industry supported; it was endorsed and embraced by Alberta stakeholders and the Strategic Tourism Marketing Council (now known as the Alberta Strategic Tourism Council). This overwhelming support was instrumental in securing legislation approved by the Alberta Legislative Assembly as the Travel Alberta Act.
The nine members of Travel Alberta’s inaugural Board of Directors were announced in January 2009. Members were recruited to complement Travel Alberta’s marketing expertise, oversee the implementation of the strategies and policies of the new corporation, and ensure greater accountability to tourism stakeholders.Once the structure was in place, Travel Alberta began the groundwork to build a brand, streamline administrative costs, improve internal communications and strengthen the programs and services presented to our industry partners.
Through an extensive recruitment process, the Board selected Bruce Okabe as Travel Alberta’s first Chief Executive Officer in July 2009. It was his mission to place the right people in the right positions, create a cohesive business-focused leadership team, and set the foundation for future growth through a solid market-driven strategy at Travel Alberta.
A major phase in building this business was to develop a resilient, united marketing team to deliver on our mission and strategy. The first step was to amalgamate Travel Alberta International (a non-profit organization directed by Tourism Calgary and Edmonton Tourism for international marketing efforts) and Travel Alberta Secretariat (a department reporting to the former Ministry of Tourism, Parks and Recreation) into one aligned organization.A year later, Travel Alberta Regional (outsourced to Parcom Marketing Inc. in Edmonton and responsible for destination marketing within Canada) was transitioned into the corporation. This integration meant that all of Travel Alberta’s regional, national and international marketing efforts were consolidated and aligned.
The creation of a People Strategy in September 2010 ensured that corporate values and team principles were clearly defined and performance plans were aligned to business outcomes. The integration of a people strategy, devised by our team for our team, fostered an engaged workplace and supported the mission to empower individual passion and build inspirational leadership as one team.
In April 2012, Alberta’s six distinct Tourism Destination Regions – each governed by their own non-profit board and responsible for regional cooperative marketing funding – were integrated into the Travel Alberta family. This was the final step in the amalgamation of nine previously separate tourism entities.
In October 2011, we launched a unifying tourism brand (remember to breathe) that is now the foundation on which we approach the marketplace as Team Alberta. Travel Alberta has been recognized with more than 45 awards for marketing and brand excellence since 2011 – a testament to a powerful message that differentiates our province from our competition.Albertans in all corners of the province, and travellers from around the world, have developed an emotional connection to our brand. Travel Alberta’s three-minute (remember to breathe) video has been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube, and our social communities and engagements continue to flourish.
Tourism is a powerful economic driver for Alberta; it’s a $7.4 billion industry that employs more than 114,000 Albertans and supports 19,000 tourism businesses across the province. Travel Alberta works closely with the Minister of Culture and Tourism to showcase Alberta as a “must experience” travel destination. Aligned under the Alberta Tourism Framework launched in October 2013, our common goal is to grow tourism revenue to $10.3 billion by 2020.
Many other Provincial Marketing Organizations (PMOs) benchmark themselves against Travel Alberta. Not only have we seen continued marketing success, but we have nurtured an outstanding culture of committed and empowered Team Members. In 2013, Travel Alberta was named among the Best 50 Small and Medium Employers in Canada and as one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures. And in February 2014, we were named among Alberta’s Top 65 Employers.
A performance-based business strategy paired with a skilled, motivated team is our secret to success. Travel Alberta is committed to building on these accomplishments and setting our sights high for growth in the years to come.