Travel Alberta amps up U.S. campaign with $10B tourism goal by 2020

CALGARY – After a “strong” summer for tourism in the province, Travel Alberta is hoping to grow tourism to $10 billion by 2020.

Spokesperson Jennifer Anderson said tourism is currently an $8-billion industry that supports 127,000 jobs in Alberta.

She said the United States is still the province’s largest international market, and pointed to an opportunity for increasing visitation and spending from the $703 million American visitors contributed in 2013.

Travel Alberta noted the exchange rate is contributing to a greater value for their dollar north of the border, and highlighted a digital platform that appeals to people who increasingly book trips online.

Travel Alberta, Tourism Calgary and Destination Calgary are promoting specifically to people in Texas, California and New York with a campaign that launched Oct. 1.

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Anderson said U.S. visitation is already up, with drivers from U.S. to Alberta increasing by five-and-a-half per cent in Aug. 2014.

She added summer 2015 was “strong” in Alberta, with national park attendance up more than five per cent; Waterton up 14.6 per cent; and historical sites and museum visitation up 23.7 per cent. But two places didn’t see a boost in numbers: hotel occupancy rates in Calgary and Edmonton are down.

However, Anderson said “winter tourism providers” are seeing strong numbers from the U.S. compared to this time last year, and pointed to lower occupancy rates and early booking incentives.

“Hotel operators in our resort towns are reporting strong bookings for 2016,” said Anderson in an email. “Winter experience providers and ski operators are also reporting strong numbers for winter 2015-16.”

With files from Mia Sosiak

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