Travel Alberta

Business Events Mean Big Business for Alberta and Tourism

The benefits of conventions, events, exhibitions and trade shows ripple beyond the walls of the meeting space. When meetings come to town, everybody benefits. Hosting a client event, sending a team to a conference, providing employees with incentive travel, and investing in a trade show are significant investments – but what’s the return? Here’s a hint: it’s far more than you think.

Business events are big business in Canada, accounting for 1.5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 according to a recent Canadian study, Economic Contribution of Business Events in Canada: Canadian Economic Impact Study 3.0 (CEIS 3.0). The direct contribution of business events, as well as indirect and induced contributions to the Canadian economy, was measured in the study commissioned by Meetings Professionals International (MPI) Foundation Canada. The study was undertaken by Maritz Research Canada, The Conference Board of Canada, Greenfield Services Inc. and The Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council.

Key Findings for Canada

Business events include large conferences or conventions, corporate meetings and events, and incentive travel offered to top performers in organizations. More than 585,000 business events were held in Canada in 2012, which amounted to $29 billion in overall spending and the 1.5 per cent contribution to Canada’s GDP.

Ninety-six per cent of attendees at the events were Canadians and the remaining four per cent were international, which is over 1.5 million visitors.

Key Findings for Alberta

Previous similar studies did not break the results out by region, but for the 2012 study, Meetings and Conventions Calgary, Edmonton Tourism and Travel Alberta jointly invested in the study and successfully promoted this idea. For the first time, specific data are available for Alberta and other regions of Canada, providing valuable insight into the economic impact of business events in Alberta compared with the rest of the country.

Alberta shows some impressive results for the year of this study. Meeting volume in Alberta was 14.8 per cent of Canada’s total, compared to 10.5 per cent in British Columbia. Close to 300,000 international participants attended meetings in Alberta. This number represents a higher percentage of international participants in Alberta than in Canada as a whole: 5 per cent for Alberta compared to 4 per cent for Canada. Business events activity accounted for about 1.8 per cent of Alberta’s GDP, which compares favourably to the Canada GDP contribution of 1.5 per cent.

Travel Alberta accesses several sources to gather tourism data. Statistics Canada reported Alberta’s total tourism expenditure as $7.4 billion in 2012. The total tourism-related expenditure from business events in Alberta measured in the 2012 Canadian impact study was over $2.6 billion, which potentially accounts for over 30 per cent of total tourism expenditure in Alberta.

Employment numbers were also measured in the study and showed that, through direct, indirect and induced impact, a total of over 59,000 jobs were supported by Alberta business events. The Alberta tourism industry accounted for 114,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2012; over 34,000 of these jobs were directly related to business events – potentially about 30 per cent of Alberta’s tourism jobs.

With the second largest number of head offices in Canada, great venues and a strong economy, Alberta has an opportunity to continue as a strong player in the business events industry.

Meetings Mean Long-Term Business

Face-to-face industry events lead to investment and long-term community impact in regions through job creation and commerce generation.

As an example, the Canadian Wind Energy Association is considering holding their annual conference and exhibition in Alberta for the first time in September 2016. If the event comes to Alberta, it will bring 800 people and 2,000 hotel room nights, resulting in a tourism-related economic impact of over $1,000,000. But the potential residual economic impact of this meeting on education, investment and industry growth will continue well into the future in Alberta.

Travel Alberta’s Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Events (MICE) team works to bring business events that align with Alberta’s key industries, such as energy, environmental products and services, construction, life sciences, agriculture, finance and logistics, just to name a few.  The MICE team participates in a broad range of programs and activities in long-haul markets that maximize the sales potential for Alberta meetings and incentive destinations.

You can access the CEIS 3.0 report on the Meeting Professionals International website.

For more information:

Brian Slot, Director, Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, & Events at Travel Alberta.

T: 403-648-1080


Travel Alberta