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Alberta Business Events Set Stage for Long-Term Tourism Growth

Alberta’s appeal as an all-season travel destination is on display this year at a time when all eyes are already on Canada as we celebrate our 150th birthday. Many of the world’s most influential travel trade, meetings and incentives, and tourism forums from the U.S., Australia and Europe are scheduled to take place right here in our own backyard. Business-to-business travel professionals are choosing Alberta’s beautiful backdrop for these elite events recognizing Alberta’s unique offering.

“Once someone experiences everything Alberta has to offer, from off the beaten track gems to the iconic mountains, we know that they go back home with a story to tell,” says Bart Donnelly, Business Development Director, Europe and Australia for Travel Alberta. “The flow of experience and interactions stays with them, and drives the narrative they pass on the next round of visitors – this is one of many steps needed to reach our goal of $10 billion in tourism revenue by 2020.”

Alberta isn’t attracting the globe’s top travel buyers and industry leaders just because we’re helping to celebrate the anniversary of Canada’s Confederation; they identify the province as one of the country’s gems and industry insiders want to appreciate it for themselves. Attendees at these events may be drawn by famous peaks, but they end up discovering the unique, marketable experiences all over the province, and many in unexpected places or times through the year. Areas that might not get as much attention as the Rockies (at least not yet) are able to capitalize on exposure through these events to drive visitors for years to come.

Here is just a sampling of what’s happened and what’s still ahead in 2017:

Student Youth Travel Association Summit 2017 (SYTA)

January 22-25, 2017
Banff and Lake Louise

More than 50 tour operators from across Canada and the U.S. descended on Banff in January to check out Alberta’s offering for teenagers and young adults with the travel bug – a demographic that is starting to make their voice as a traveller (and consumer) known. Cameron Wood, Manager, Business Development, Global Projects for Travel Alberta, says the Student Youth Travel Association Summit is a major coup for Alberta.

“Operators see Alberta as a winter mecca for students, and some of the areas known for skiing also offer dynamic nightlife, shopping and once-in-a-lifetime activities we know these travellers are looking for,” Wood says. “The creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of Alberta operators, especially through the busy winter season, leads to increased options for this demographic and this event gives us a chance to show instead of tell.”

Banff & Lake Louise Tourism was instrumental in bringing SYTA to Alberta this year.

The Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS)

March 26 to April 1, 2017
Fairmont Banff Springs
Banff and Lake Louise

As the single largest and longest-running annual gathering of mountain travel professionals in the world, Mountain Travel Symposium attracts representatives from over 35 countries. Alberta’s top hoteliers, resorts, culinary and other travel and tourism community members are on hand to meet and build relationships with those in the ski industry (tour operators, ski clubs and the like) and show the world what Alberta’s mountain business community offers, on and off the piste.

“What we love about this forum is that it brings in buyers from all over the world and allows them to experience the dry powder and Alberta hospitality first hand. When they’re not on the slopes, there are days dedicated to educational exchanges, discussions and speakers,” says Donnelly. “We hope they take back more than just a few souvenirs – we want them to spread the word that Alberta holds high value for international travellers.”

Rendez-vous Canada (RVC)

May 9-12, 2017
Calgary

Speed dating, Alberta style. If you’ve ever been to a conference and thought to yourself, “I didn’t get to meet as many people as I would have liked,” you’re not alone. It’s something that organizers of Rendez-vous Canada (RVC) won’t let happen during the 2017 marketplace event.

They pride themselves on a speed-dating-style method of creating appointments for buyers, sellers, and destination marketing organizations (provincial and territorial government and associations) to connect in order to grow tourism opportunities in the most efficient way possible. If attendees need a break from mingling, they can head to the Tourism Partner Pavilion to check out the various booths.

“Hosting Rendez-vous Canada in Calgary allows Alberta to showcase our breathtaking province and the vibrant energy of Calgary to the world,” says Colleen Reed, Director, Industry Events, Travel Alberta. “The more we get to tell the Alberta story in our own backyard, the better we can create opportunities to host more big ticket events and other tourism business drivers well into the foreseeable future.”

The event is held in a different Canadian city annually, attracting approximately 1,500 international tourism leaders and buyers.

International Aboriginal Tourism Conference (IATC) 2017

November 5-7, 2017
Calgary

The 6th international Aboriginal Tourism Conference (IATC) is coming to Calgary’s Grey Eagle Resort and Casino this fall. Hosted by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada (ATAC), the three-day event will focus on strategic direction and plans of how to grow Indigenous tourism across Canada.

Stephanie Clovechok, Manager, Experience Development for Travel Alberta, says the province has an Indigenous population of over 220,000 and is home to 48 First Nations, and their contribution to provincial and national culture is becoming a big part of the visitor experience in Canada.

“Indigenous people are the traditional knowledge keepers of the land that supports our industry. Integration of traditional protocols, acknowledgment of traditional territories and the growth of authentic Indigenous experiences support Alberta’s goal to drive visitation to our province in every area and for a diverse selection of experiences,” Clovechok says. “Integration of Indigenously owned and operated experiences and expansion of partnerships allow the tourism industry to evolve culturally and economically.”

Attendees at this year’s conference can take part in workshops on Indigenous tourism, explore tourism industry research and marketing strategies, and collaborate on strategies to support growth and capacity for Indigenous communities.

Meetings and Incentives Forum (M&I Forum)

Transatlantic 2017
December 10-14, 2017
Banff

Europe’s top meetings and incentives buyers will travel to Banff for the first time to the four-day forum to explore opportunities that include culinary events, mountain escapes, ski activities, and resort and hotel options.

Representatives from across Europe and the U.S. meet 60 suppliers from across North America. Meetings and Incentives Forum buyers have budgets that average $2.8 million to spend on travel experiences for their groups. That’s capital that Donnelly would love to see invested in the province.

“Until now, this forum has traditionally taken place in Europe. We’ve been working with them for the past few years to see how we could bring it to Alberta,” Donnelly says. “It’s a major coup for our province and Canada to bring them here so they can experience Alberta. Once here, we know the Alberta experience can bring them, and their clients, back again. Our role is to continually find ways to grow the vast potential we already have – once we get them here we think they will have no problem getting them to come back.”


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