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Calgarians asked to capture their WOW tourism moments

A pioneering tourism marketing campaign is set to turn Calgarians into ambassadors for the city and give the tourism a boost during a challenging economic time. Tourism Calgary is encouraging locals to share their greatest Calgary moments in an effort to attract more tourists to the city in the Capture WOW campaign.

Calgarians are being asked to capture and share their biggest WOW tourism moments here and they are invited to upload their photos on www.capturewow.ca. Prizes will be awarded for some of their greatest images and stories.

Randy Williams, president and chief executive of Tourism Calgary, said travellers have been coming to Calgary for years to experience well-known attractions and icons such as the Calgary Stampede and the Rocky Mountains. "We want to expand their perceptions of Calgary and show them we are a top leisure destination boasting world-class experiences, top-rated restaurants, diverse festivals, outdoor adventures amidst breathtaking views and some of the friendliest people anywhere. Everything Calgary offers combines to create a unique energy unlike any other city in the world," he said.

Gisele Danis, vice-president of marketing for Tourism Calgary, said the campaign will roll out in two phases. "We're asking Calgarians to help us market to the rest of Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C.," said Danis. "So the next month we're asking Calgarians to share and upload their greatest tourism moment. Greatest restaurant, hotdog stand, night clubs, you name it, bike paths, attractions. Share with us these great moments. "And then we're asking them to upload on a website and from there we're going to use the best of the best images that were uploaded by Calgarians to invite the rest of the province and Western Canada to come and see Calgary. So we're really asking locals to be the experts in tourism not Tourism Calgary. We want them to tell them why they should come to this city and help grow tourism for Calgary."

Williams said Tourism Calgary was originally projecting about a three to four per cent increase in tourism this year in the city from the previous year. "That might be dampened a little bit because of the price of fuel and also the (elevated level) of the Canadian dollar," said Williams. "So we're projecting about three per cent growth in 2011."

Each year about 4.5 million visitors come to the city and the tourism industry generates over $1.1 billion to the local economy each year and employs about one in 10 Calgarians. Tourism Calgary will give bragging rights to locals with the best WOW experiences by using them in tactical marketing campaigns running in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia throughout 2011. The WOW campaign runs until December.

Total cost of the campaign is $936,000. Numerous local tourism partners have joined Tourism Calgary in the Capture WOW campaign, injecting $200,000 into it. "As a premier attraction and museum in Calgary we wanted to partner with Tourism Calgary on this unique campaign because who better than locals to inspire travellers to visit our city. They are the tourism experts. They live here, shop here, dine here and host friends and family at major events, attractions and festivals," said Alida Visbach, president and chief executive of Heritage Park Historical Village.
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