As we continue to process all the COVID-19 developments, Travel Alberta is right here with you through this historic time in our industry and world. I thank all of you who have taken the time over the past few days to share your stories with me and help our team understand the challenges you are facing and the needs we must address together.
Internationally, organizations are starting to come together to figure out how to respond to the challenge posed by COVID-19. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has convened a global tourism crisis committee to provide guidance to the international tourism community. They have coined #traveltomorrow, built around the premise that by staying home today, we can travel tomorrow. We have seen variations of this in our Canadian communities, and Travel Alberta continues to work closely with you and our national and international partners to support these safety measures.
Closer to home, between news stories and government announcements, information is coming in at a “rapid-fire” pace. We are updating the COVID-19 page here on our industry website regularly to provide you with current information and resources in one place. As we receive news and updated information, we will either upload or link to it there. You can also find this and my previous messages on that page, should there be something you would like to follow up on, or address with me directly.
Connecting with our partners
Travel Alberta team members continue to reach out to understand what stage everyone is at and what your immediate needs are. We know you have questions and, admittedly, we don’t have all the answers at our fingertips. But we are working with our partners in government to help connect you with the information you need.
From the Rockies to rural towns, everyone in our industry is being impacted - big companies and small businesses alike. We understand the uncertainty operators are feeling about what the future may hold if this situation continues for too long. And we are aware that many of you are already having to make heartbreaking decisions about your most valuable asset—your employees, your people.
Funding and industry support
In his March 23 update, Premier Kenney said he is very concerned about small and medium-sized businesses in the province and pledged the Government of Alberta will continue to work with the federal government on measures to help ensure businesses can survive and re-open when the crisis has passed. The Alberta government also continues to advocate for financial support for Canada’s aviation industry.
Over the past several days, a number of measures to support individuals and businesses have been announced by the federal and provincial (March 18 and March 23) governments, and they have committed to getting money into the pockets of Canadians who need it as quickly as possible.
The tourism sector is predicted to be one of the hardest hit by this situation and tourism advocates are working to secure support for our industry. For example, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, the Hotel Association of Canada, the Canadian Airports Council and the Business Council of Alberta have all sent letters to the Prime Minister urging fast and sustainable funding action for tourism businesses affected by COVID-19. In addition, the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta (TIAA) has sent a letter to Premier Kenney asking for direct and immediate support for our industry.
The Government of Alberta has established an Economic Recovery Council, made up of policy and industry experts, to help guide the province through the downturn resulting from COVID-19 and the energy price crash. They’ll be focusing on long-term recovery and accelerating Alberta economic diversification.
Tourism is a cornerstone of that diversification and we continue to work with our government partners on Alberta’s 10-year Tourism Strategy. It is more important than ever to have a long-term vision to guide Alberta tourism back to growth.
The entrepreneurial spirit and “can-do” attitude that our industry and Albertans are famous for is being tested. Our Team Alberta approach has propelled the province’s visitor economy to new heights through good times and challenging times. And I am confident it will again.
Please know that the entire Travel Alberta team is actively strategizing, so we’re ready to activate when it is safe and appropriate to welcome domestic and international travellers back to Alberta, to experience all the icons, hidden gems and unique cultural experiences throughout our beautiful province. We will share our strategies with you and seek input in the weeks ahead.
Communicating with Albertans and global travellers
Over the last week, we were helping our federal and provincial partners get the message to Albertans abroad to come home and self-isolate. Now, as our borders and businesses adjust to these new realities, Travel Alberta is committed to maintaining our communities, both within Alberta and among our international audiences.
Over the next few weeks, we will assess, evaluate, and recalibrate our content strategies, for all our audiences. We know there will be nuances and changes; we are working together to ensure that we have appropriate messaging on all our channels.
For now, we are acknowledging that these are difficult times and it’s important to follow the advice of the experts, to stay home and practice physical distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Albertans helping Albertans
As we have seen so many times before, like the 2013 floods and Fort McMurray wildfires, Albertans have a remarkable capacity to come together in times like these. And we’re seeing it again with COVID-19.
Alberta leaders from the worlds of sports, music, media and government have come together in a new video encouraging Albertans to “help prevent the spread” of COVID-19. We’re sharing the video on our corporate Twitter and LinkedIn channels. You can watch the video here. Please feel free share with your networks.
Also, the Alberta Emergency Management Agency has created an online form in response to the growing offers of assistance from individuals and organizations. Those wanting to help can go to alberta.ca/COVID19offersprogram.
We will continue to distribute these messages every Tuesday to keep you informed.
As we follow the federal and provincial guidelines for physical distancing and self-isolation, it’s more important than ever that we find ways to connect so we can work together to get through this difficult time.
CEO, Travel Alberta
Previous CEO Messages:
March 17, 2020
March 3, 2020