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When applying for tourism investment, the quality of your application matters. And the Destination Development team at Travel Alberta is here to help. 

Andi Dzilums, destination development manager for the Canadian Badlands and Historic Plains regions, has years of experience overseeing Travel Alberta’s tourism investment program. In fact, he reviews hundreds of applications every year.  

Keep reading for Andi’s expert advice on how you can make your investment application stand out. 

What is the most common question you hear throughout the intake process?

I encourage everyone to know and understand the program priorities. That means actually reading through the guidelines on our website – some things have changed since previous years. 

 For example, under the product development stream, we prioritize building new guided tourism experiences or experiences that are outside of a business’ current offerings. We want to see innovative ideas to grow businesses beyond their traditional offerings—ideas that will help them reach a new audience or extend their operating season. 


As a campground operator, I encounter many young families and new Canadians that want to explore the outdoors but aren't comfortable enough and don't have all the proper equipment to go camping. But they'd love to stay in the campground, so we would like to build some unique accommodation like cabins or high-end tents.

Example from an investment application

Every year, we receive hundreds of applications for great projects across our development streams. And we go through an extensive process to evaluate these applications. But if the information isn't there, or if the applicant hasn’t supplied a business plan or met other criteria for the application, it’s very difficult for us to invest. By reading your application, we need to get a strong sense of how this investment will drive job creation and increased revenue.  

Can you give an example of an excellent project that received funding from Travel Alberta last year? 

For product development, Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation comes to mind. They’re using Travel Alberta investment to build a new experience centre, including group and independent accommodation. With their application, they included blueprints of the building and other detailed documentation, which made their project look great on paper. And their proximity to Lethbridge and strong relationship with Tourism Lethbridge made them a standout applicant. 

A young woman holding an owl at the Alberta Birds of Prey Visitor's Centre in Coaldale
A young woman holding an owl at the Alberta Birds of Prey Visitor's Centre in Coaldale

From a co-op perspective, we recently supported the Alberta Small Brewers Association to develop their Alberta Ale Trail initiative. To have something like this in Alberta, operated by a local association, is unique to the province. The project will support brewery tourism, agritourism, and culinary experience development as we showcase these great Alberta breweries. 

Couple / man and woman sharing a beer flight at an outdoor picnic table
Couple man and woman sharing a beer flight at an outdoor picnic table

The incubator fund was added in 2022 to support entrepreneurs who have been in business for 1-3 years. What advice would you give to anyone who may be thinking of starting a new tourism business? 

One of the reasons I love working at Travel Alberta is being able to work with passionate entrepreneurs on a daily basis. For those looking at starting a new tourism business or who have already started, my recommendation is to ensure you have a strong business plan and that you have set up the appropriate goals and reporting methods to achieve success.  

If you have a great idea and are passionate about it, that’s great. But we need to understand your projections are for growth, and where we can help grow your operations over the next two to three years. Those are the kind of inflection points on which a business can succeed or fail.

*Please note the incubator fund is not open for the fall 2023 intake.Sign up for Connections and be the first to know when it opens.

What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about Travel Alberta’s investment programs?

That we’re here to help. 

I think it sometimes gets lost when we can’t support an initiative because it may not be eligible or align with our priorities. But I want people to realize that we're here as a destination development team, and a Travel Alberta team, to support Alberta’s tourism industry.  

The investment program is just one piece of a larger organization that's here to support the goals and objectives of our industry partners—whether they’re a business, a community, an association, or a destination marketing organization.

The best way to develop a relationship with Travel Alberta is to reach out to your destination development manager and start a conversation. We’re here to help you navigate everything Travel Alberta has to offer and put you in touch with the right people. 

Destination Development Managers

Portrait of Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith

Wildlands & Northern Rockies

Portrait of Chris Down

Chris Down


Portrait of Lisa Lima

Lisa Lima

West Country & Central Prairies

Portrait of Andi Dzilums

Andi Dzilums

Canadian Badlands & Historic Plains

Portrait of Cameron Spence

Cameron Spence

Foothills & Canadian Rockies

Portrait of Yvonne Chau

Yvonne Chau

Southern Rockies & Calgary

Portrait of Rene Rondeau

Rene Rondeau

Edmonton & Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo

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