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Schow optimistic about tourism industry’s growth in Alberta

Posted on April 25, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

Lethbridge County producers are having a significant impact on Lethbridge Tourism.

In honour of National Tourism Week (April 15-19) Minister of Tourism and Sport and MLA for Cardston-Siksika, Joseph Schow, highlighted the growing economic impact of the tourism industry in Alberta.

In a recent release Schow commented, “At the peak of National Tourism Week, we are reminded of the resilience of Alberta’s tourism operators, destination marketing organizations, and staff who connect travellers with life-changing experiences that leave them with an everlasting desire to explore all that Alberta has to offer. This hard work, coupled with world-renowned Albertan hospitality, is propelling Alberta’s tourism industry to become a driving force in the province’s economy, putting it on track to reach new heights year after year.”

Tourism in Alberta continues to bring in billions each year. According to the Province, 2022 saw a $600 million increase in visitor spending over per-pandemic figures ($10.7 billion).

“The most recent data from 2023 shows that we remain on the right track, especially when it comes to international tourism,” reads a recent Government of Alberta release, and added international visitor spending in the first three quarters of 2023 surpassed today international visitor spending for all of 2019. 

Schow said, “We’re committed to ensuring this growth is sustainable. Two months ago, we launched a new long-term tourism strategy that charts a path to further tourism growth. We have an ambitious goal of growing Alberta’s visitor economy to $25 billion in annual visitor spending by 2035. As we pursue this, we’re working to ensure communities across the province benefit from economic growth, diversification and job creation.”

Schow added that National Tourism Week is an opportunity for Albertans to showcase its world-class amenities and attractions, “For those of us fortunate enough to call this province home, I encourage you to explore all the wonderful tourism experiences Alberta has to offer.”

According to Tourism Lethbridge, the city has experienced, “remarkable growth of tourism,” in recent years. The organization released their 2023 Power of Tourism Document which quantifies and breaks down how tourism has facilitated growth in Lethbridge, and noted a 3.5 per cent increase in the number of visitors the organization interacted with dfirectly in 2023, versus the previous year. As well, the airport reported a 32.8 per cent increase in passenger volume last year compared to 2022, “showcasing Lethbridge’s growing appeal as a premier destination.” 

In a recent release, Erin Crane, CEO of Tourism Lethbridge, noted, “Tourism serves as a driving force for economic development, job creation, and cultural enrichment in Lethbridge. It not only supports local businesses but also fosters a sense of pride and community identity.”

With food and dining an integral part of a city’s identity, Tourism Lethbridge launched a self-guided driving food tour in 2022 to showcase a number of rural producers and partners in Lethbridge County. Among these featured businesses are Cattlemen’s Chophouse in Picture Butte, Benchmark Angus located west of Warner, Prairie Hill Farms in Picture Butte, Broek Pork Acres, Crystal Springs Cheese, Broxburn Vegetables, and Little Gem Winery in Lethbridge County.

Although Tourism Lethbridge is focused on marketing for the city of Lethbridge, Dominika Wojcik, senior director of communications for Tourism Lethbridge said, “The self-guided Food Tour has been very well received by both visitors and locals!  We’ve taken several social media influencers, government officials, investors, and other stakeholders on the tour, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many express how incredible it is to see and experience everything on the tour, from Broxburn Vegetables to Crystal Springs Cheese, to Little Gem Winery and more.” 

Wojcik said, “We understand that food tourism is a major part of the tourism sector,” added Wojcik, and said the tour provides a unique opportunity for people to see what is being made and grown in their backywards. The tour uses the tool “Driftscape” which allows users to explore the sites and attractions and learn details about each stop and producers through the platform. 

Wojcik added that the self-guided driving food tour allows visitors and locals alike to experience food tourism in the region on their own terms, noted that marketing agri-food tourism in the Lethbridge region has resulted in a “significant impact on tourism,” noting that food tourism represents a significant portion of overall tourism. 

“By highlighting the authentic farm-to-table experiences and showcasing the passion and dedication of our local producers, we can continue to develop more authentic opportunities within our region. This not only boosts tourism numbers but also fosters a deeper connection between visitors and our community, enriching their overall experience of our community.” 

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