You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

Skip to main content
Text Size:

So, your tourism business is growing. You feel ready to take on the next step. But you may be wondering, “What does the next step look like? Where should we be in two, three, or five years?”

For many tourism operators, one of the greatest challenges and opportunities is making that jump into international markets. In order to successfully attract and retain international travellers from across the world, you’ll need export-ready product.

Being export-ready means that your business is equipped to promote, book, take payments from, and welcome visitors from around the world. And while that may sound straightforward, it’s more complicated than you may think.

Why should you consider international markets?

International markets play an essential role in Alberta’s visitor economy. In fact, our core marketing strategy focuses on attracting high-value U.S. and international travellers — most likely to spend more, stay longer, and visit more parts of the province when they travel.

Did you know?

The farther a traveller lives from Alberta, the more money and time they’ll spend in the province. On average, Albertans spend $242 per person per visit, whereas U.S. travellers spend $828 per person per visit.

Learn about Alberta's Ultimate Travellers

Becoming export ready

 Since you started your tourism business, you’ve been on this journey toward establishing an export-ready product, whether you realize it or not. Export-ready means you’re able to market to international markets and deliver a consistent product or experience.

Keep reading to learn more about the Export-ready process:

Step one - Define your tourism offerings

In this early stage, your priorities are developing your offerings, implementing a local marketing strategy and identifying areas for improvement. Your product or experience may need more time to prepare for a massive influx of international travellers, but you’ll have no problem attracting local and domestic visitors to experience your incredible offering.

Travel Alberta’s Incubator Investment Fund provides financial support for new tourism entrepreneurs who have been in business for less than three years. Funding applications reopen in September 2023. In the meantime, read our article on how to make a strong application.

Step two - Pass the Export Ready Checklist

To begin marketing internationally, and to access the full range of partner marketing programs offered by Travel Alberta and your local Destination Marketing Organization, you’ll need to pass the export-ready checklist.

 Evaluate your product and company to determine if it meets the criteria. While the complete checklist is here, below are some examples:

  • In business for at least one year, with a proven track record for safe and professional operation
  • Proof of appropriate licensing and insurance
  • Mature marketing program with appropriate marketing materials clearly displaying your product available for sellers
  • Up to date tourism-based website
  • Efficient booking system for reservations, changes and confirmation.
  • Accept payment from overseas clients (cheque, wire transfer or credit card), provide billing system function and extend credit to receptive tour operators

Don't Forget!

Update your ATIS listing to take full advantage of Travel Alberta’s marketing programs.

About ATIS

Step three - Speak with your Destination Development Manager

When you’ve passed the export-ready checklist, it’s time to talk to your Destination Development (DD) manager. Our DD team is here to help, no matter what stage of the process you are in. However, when you are looking to market to international audiences, this is an ideal time to speak to your region’s Destination Manager. They offer support in:

  • Planning: Developing and implementing regional destination development plans.
  • Experiences: Collaborating with operators and DMOs to design and build more compelling guest experiences.
  • Investments: Identifying and assisting in exploring and applying for investment opportunities/grants.
  • Forecasting: Small-to-medium size investment assessments and business forecasts.
  • Coaching: Business growth coaching to address key operational and marketing challenges.
  • Networking: Introductions to mentors and partners in the industry to assist operators with firsthand experience addressing common challenges in growing their revenues.

If you are not sure who your region’s Destination Manager is, click here.

Step four - Participate in trade shows and marketplaces

Your DD manager will be able to suggest opportunities to participate in international trade shows and marketplaces, to better connect with international buyers.

Travel-trade events like Rendez-vous Canada+ provide a unique opportunity to showcase tourism products on a global stage. Connect with your DD manager to learn how sellers are selected.

Step five - Market your product

Being export-ready means marketing your product to international channels, driving awareness of your product and transforming the viewer’s awareness to intention so they eventually buy or book your experiences.

Click here for a list of tour operators and other travel agents. We also have an article on how to build a strong relationship with a receptive tour operator.

Once you’ve become export ready, it’s much easier for influencers and marketing organizations to highlight your product and experiences, through paid and organic marketing channels. You’ve demonstrated yourself as an established business with consistent experiences that visitors can expect and plan for.

Keep reading Tips to help market your business to the world.

You may also be interested in