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Today is World Tourism Day, an annual celebration of tourism’s social, cultural, political, and economic value. Yet, as we observe the occasion under a COVID cloud for the second consecutive year, it may not seem like there is much to celebrate.

We see it differently. Despite tourism topping the list of the hardest hit industries (in Alberta, 2021 tourism expenditures are expected to fall by 50 per cent) and coping with the worst crisis the sector has ever faced, the people working in Alberta tourism have proven themselves to be the very definition of resilient—strong, spirited, and adaptable.

Clearly, the past year and a half has been extraordinarily challenging, and the business environment continues to evolve. Through it all, you have been adapting your businesses, changing up your experiences, and working hard to safely welcome visitors. All the while, demonstrating your deep-rooted passion for your work and determination to get through this, so you can continue doing what you love—sharing the best of Alberta and providing memorable experiences for visitors to enjoy.

We know it will take time to rebound to 2019 levels: an $8.2 billion industry, sustaining 20,000 tourism businesses and generating nearly 69,000 jobs.

But we have faith in our collective ability—working together as Team Alberta—to rebuild our sector, come back stronger, and lay the foundation for sustainable growth. Precisely because of the continued resilience and resolve exemplified by the people working in this industry.

To Albertans reading this who love to travel—and have been so generously supporting tourism businesses through this crisis—we have one request this World Tourism Day.

Please spare a little grace and kindness, especially for those working on the frontlines of tourism—like the hotel front desk clerk, the front of house staff at your favourite restaurant, the tour guide, and the customer service agent at the airport.

Tourism businesses are working hard to recruit and train people to ramp back up while adapting to a constantly changing environment.

After almost 19 months—and counting—they are excited and grateful to welcome you back and are committed to doing everything in their power to provide you with the best experience possible—as safely as possible. Today, we salute the resiliency of everyone working in tourism. And on their behalf, we thank you for being kind.

Martin Long, Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Tourism, shares his thoughts on the resiliency of Alberta's tourism businesses.

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