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Theatrical production to boost Calgary economy

CALGARY - A theatrical production later this spring is expected to provide a boost to Calgary's economy. Cavalia, which rolls into town in late May, creates another specific event as a destination for people thinking of visiting the city.

Randy Williams, president and chief executive of Tourism Calgary, said the production will have a huge impact on Calgary. "What it does is bring in 3,000 room rights just from the production people alone," he said. "That's awesome for the city. We've got about two months of programming that we can tie some packages on and get some excitement and create some demand, urgency to visit the city right away. A good time of year when you can get an early start on the summer."

This is another example of a special event creating a demand for Calgary as a destination, he said. The city will always have its key tourist places that people regularly visit. "(But) when you have these events (like Cirque du Soleil), it creates an urgency to go right away," added Williams.

Cavalia, a multimedia show that includes 49 horses with acrobatics, begins May 25 for a two-week run under the Big White Top, an enormous tent set up in Canada Olympic Park. Since its founding in 2003, the show has been performed for nearly three million people around the world.

Last fall, the comic fantasy Kooza, a Cirque du Soleil production, not only added to Calgary's growing reputation as an artistic centre in Western Canada but the show also added to the city's bottom line as an example of the events Calgary can host to generate more tourism revenue. Kooza was the first major event promoted through a partnership between Tourism Calgary and the Calgary Hotel Association's Destination Marketing Fund that seeks out big-time attractions and events to market regionally and nationally. Promotion and ticket packages were offered through visitcalgary.com.

Tourism Calgary estimated there would be $1.7 million in direct spending by Cirque for the production. A total of about 6,500 room nights was estimated to be booked for Kooza from staff and tourists. The hotel association estimated another $600,000 of spending in the local economy by tourists.

Each year about 4.5 million visitors come to the city and the tourism industry generates over $1 billion to the local economy.
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