We are navigating unprecedented times and each day brings new developments in this rapidly evolving situation. It can be overwhelming, trying to figure out what it all means for our industry, our communities and each of us individually. But I want to assure you that Travel Alberta is also here to help during this turbulent time.
The COVID-19 page on Travel Alberta’s Industry Hub website is updated regularly to provide you with current information and resources in one place. We will also distribute partner updates every Tuesday to subscribers of our Connections e-newsletter. If you aren’t yet a subscriber, you can sign up here.
Travel Alberta Operations
As of Monday, March 16, Travel Alberta team members are working remotely until March 27. At that time, we will reassess the situation and make adjustments accordingly. We are taking this step to help ensure the safety of our team members, families and friends. We will be accessible via all the usual communications channels, and it will be business as normal to support our Team Alberta partners through this difficult time.
We have put together an internal task force that is monitoring, assessing and managing potential impacts to our team and partners. Some of the measures we’ve taken include:
- Pausing all Travel Alberta-led media visits to the province to protect the well-being of Albertans and visiting media. We will assess and resume these activities when the time is right.
- Temporarily postponing all upcoming workshops. We are exploring different ways to deliver learning and development opportunities in the meantime. We will send more information when we have determined our next steps.
Advertising to Snowbirds
If you listened to the update from Premier Kenney and Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Sunday afternoon (March 15), you may have caught the reference to Travel Alberta redirecting our advertising budget to inform snowbirds (Canadians abroad) about protocols for returning home. I wanted to clarify the nature of our support.
Travel Alberta is assisting the provincial government with the development and distribution of information to assist travellers returning from outside Canada, so they know what to do and how to self-isolate. This is not a paid campaign and we are not redirecting promotional dollars to support this effort. Our role is simply to support our government partners in getting the word out. Travel Alberta has developed and nurtured a significant digital community with extended reach that will ably support the distribution of this message. Within the next 24 hours or so, you will see a COVID-19 awareness message on Travel Alberta digital channels, linking back to a Government of Alberta webpage as the sole source of official information.
We see this as an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the community reach we have created with the support of our Team Alberta partners. This will also underscore the importance of destination promotion as we look to the future and collaborate to rebuild the Alberta visitor economy.
We continue to work closely with Destination Canada, Alberta destination organizations and industry partners to monitor the impact on Alberta tourism. We are aware of several trip postponements and cancellations for tours, particularly in our popular hot spots, like the Rockies. Thank you to all of you for everything you are doing to assist and support visitors during these difficult times.
This morning the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) issued a statement, which reads, in part:
"This pandemic affects every level of society and we stand by those affected in these times. The impact of the pandemic on already slowing economies has made tourism particularly vulnerable, becoming the hardest hit sector so far. With 80% of the sector made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, millions of livelihoods in the world are left vulnerable."
I want to assure you that we understand that the impacts of this situation to your businesses and communities may be significant, and we are only now beginning to understand exactly what those may be.
In addition to the many conferences and workshops being affected, on March 16 Destination Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada officially cancelled Rendez-Vous Canada, recognizing, “Rendez-vous Canada is very much a lifeline for the Canadian tourism sector—generating leads and sales with key markets around the world, but the health, welfare and safety of delegates is paramount.”
We are aware of the impact this will have on those of you who were planning to attend and we will do everything we can to support you in your business development efforts.
To make sure you have the resources you need to help manage this situation, no matter what your business needs are, we have started to pull together resources and tools to help you. These include a comprehensive guide to issues management planning and related checklist.
Our aim is to provide you with resources for business continuity and recovery planning—all in one place. As the situation evolves, we will continue to update this page and the resources on it to address your most pressing needs and concerns.
Impact and Recovery
We are a resilient industry in the face of adversity. We have overcome economic downturns, floods, wildfires and other health emergencies. But COVID-19 is different. This is a deep and direct hit to our airlines, hotels, operators, restaurants and so many other tourism-related businesses. I know many of you are still learning what these changes mean to you, your businesses and your families.
As Team Alberta, we will roll up our sleeves and lean into this together. This is a time to support each other and our community. And we will get through it.
Let’s look after each other, and most importantly, stay safe.
We’ll continue to stay in touch with you as this situation unfolds. However, if you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please reach out to Danielle Vlemmiks, our Director, Stakeholder Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEO, Travel Alberta
Previous CEO Messages
March 3, 2020