Getting Involved in Alberta Tourism: On the scene or behind the scenes

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It’s Tourism Week in Canada! Did you know that the stats show that nearly 900,000 overseas visitors and more than 770,000 from the U.S. came to Alberta in 2014? That’s a lot of people  visiting our beautiful province to explore the wonders of our natural landscape and to experience the welcoming hospitality of Albertans.

Increased tourism also means that producers and service providers are stepping up their game, becoming even more creative and dynamic to attract visitors. This impressive entrepreneurial spirit  , among existing and new businesses alike, reflects how dedicated Albertans are to  enhancing the visitor experience.

Here are some ideas to help inspire you:

Culinary Tourism

Love good food? Culinary tourism is a rapidly growing aspect of the travel industry. Finding great food on holiday may have been considered a bonus in the past, but these days culinary experiences are often the point of a trip. Some experts estimate that food tourism has become a $150-billion industry worldwide and it’s increasing exponentially.

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Whether it’s the burgeoning food scenes in Alberta’s two major cities or the growth of rural culinary experiences in the province, there is an ever-increasing list of eateries that should be on your ‘must-try’ list.

A perfect time to check out a culinary event on a farm or ranch, featuring some of these local agricultural products, is during Alberta Open Farm Days—a provincewide celebration of rural Alberta. Some of Alberta’s most talented chefs will partner  with local producers to host memorable farm-to-table culinary events during the August 20-21 weekend. The call is out now for participants and hosts!

If you’ve ever thought about being involved in your own culinary event, you can also check out Alberta Culture and Tourism’s Culinary Tourism Event Handbook, and you may wish to visit the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance. It’s a forum for agricultural, culinary, tourism and hospitality professionals and a great source for info on all things delicious in Alberta.     cooking 3

Festivals

Whether it’s a music or cultural heritage festival, ice or sand sculpture competition—in any season there is so much to check out. You can start with Travel Alberta’s Events and Festivals page or this ever-growing list of Alberta festivals, and there are many more guides and listings available online or at your local tourism office that will direct you to the remarkable festivals right in your backyard.

If you’ve ever dreamt of putting on your own festival but don’t know where to get started, Alberta Culture and Tourism provides festival and event planning support to help. Want to showcase the local artists and performers in your area or celebrate your community’s heritage and history? Or maybe it’s a recreation-based event you have in mind—there are countless reasons to get a festival going and there’s no time like the present. Get a like-minded team of people in your community together and see what great ideas arise.

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The Business of Tourism – Support Services

If you’re looking to start  a new tourism business, or help enhance an existing one, Alberta Culture and Tourism has complimentary info available online and in person. Some resources include:

The Tourism Entrepreneurship Program: a great source for one-on-one support and planning, training opportunities like seminars and conferences or even networking opportunities with investors, this program can help launch your ideas to the next level.

The Visitor Friendly Alberta Program: offers professional advice to assist communities to determine those little visitor-friendly touches that can help make a place memorable.

Alberta Visitor Information Centres: usually a traveller’s first stop in a new location, having a great Visitor Centre can help enhance the tourism experience with that special local touch. Access training opportunities for staff, order trip-planning materials and connect with other visitor centres across the province through the Alberta Visitor Information Providers Program.

Now that you’ve got a behind-the-scenes view of how Alberta Culture and Tourism helps support the visitor experience, it’s time to head out and discover all Alberta has to offer! If you’re interested in developing your own tourism experience, this list of resources is just the beginning and we hope you find it helpful.

Good luck and happy exploring!

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