Profile Story: Alberta’s Minister of Culture and Tourism
Travel Alberta spoke with The Honourable Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Alberta Culture and Tourism to learn about plans and priorities for the province’s tourism industry.
As a young man, Alberta Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda recognized the importance of politics and how decisions made by governments affect the lives of people. He came to Canada in 1988 as a refugee from Nicaragua and sees his early experience as an activist during the years of austerity measures contributing to his interest in politics. He has taken on many leadership roles that drove both his passion for tourism and for politics, including leadership positions in the airline industry and as a union president and national representative, and a researcher for the province before being elected into office.
During his first four months as Alberta Culture and Tourism Minister, Minister Miranda has seen a wealth of opportunity to diversify Alberta’s economy through tourism, including growing Alberta’s current destinations and exploring new destinations and tourism experiences. He sees tourism as an economic bright spot because it is a resilient industry and Alberta’s natural beauty continues to attract visitors from near and far.
Minister Miranda knows firsthand the resiliency of the industry and its potential for sustainable growth. As a flight attendant for 15 years and during events like 9/11 and SARS, he saw that tourism is resilient and recession-proof.
“People love to travel and explore in spite of the troubles around them,” says Miranda. “They still need to get away to take a break – go to the mountains or the badlands, or out to a farm and enjoy time with their families, or see and experience something new.”
Minister Miranda notes that while millions of people have been attracted to Alberta by the iconic mountains and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there is so much more to explore.
“An exciting opportunity exists for Alberta to expand its agri-tourism experiences and look at ways to attract visitors to farm-to-table culinary events and open farm days, for example,” says the Minister.
Asked about priorities for the tourism industry in Alberta, Minister Miranda says taking every opportunity to diversify our economy and grow jobs through tourism is number one. Building tourism infrastructure is part of this priority, and projects like the Calgary Zoo panda exhibit, the indigenous peoples’ exhibit at Fort Edmonton Park, as well as the recently announced Royal Tyrrell Museum expansion coincide with the government’s tourism infrastructure plans. Many jobs are created as a result and the government can sustain and capitalize on the momentum that’s happened through continued investments in the province.
Minister Miranda has travelled the globe and visited many exciting and beautiful places. But regardless of where he goes or where he stays, every time he comes back home to Alberta, he gets goosebumps. That’s what the province feels like to him: everywhere he goes in the province, it feels like home.
“It’s a beautiful feeling to come back home,” says Miranda.
With that in mind, he would like to assure the people of Fort McMurray that all of Alberta’s ministries are working together to provide residents with the support and tools they need to rebuild. It’s going to be a collaborative effort, one that he has already seen in action.
He had the opportunity to visit Northlands in Edmonton in the first days of the evacuation and noted that despite the devastation they had been through, the evacuees felt so welcomed, cared for and, quite honestly, loved by the Edmonton community.
“As awful as these situations are, they bring us together as a province and bring out the best in Albertans,” says Miranda. “This province has proven time and again that when things get tough we support one another, and it’s something the government is going to continue to foster and support.”
The Minister reemphasizes that Alberta has so much to offer and he encourages everyone involved in the tourism industry to continue doing the amazing job they are doing because it has created an industry that’s resilient and responsive.
“I thank them [tourism businesses, operators, DMOs] for all that they are doing and the wonderful work I know they’ll be doing in the future,” says Miranda. “Tourism is very important to our economy and it’s going to help get us through some difficult times ahead.”Read Minister Miranda’s biography on the Alberta Culture and Tourism website.