Hon. Richard Starke 
Minister of Tourism,
Parks and Recreation

Mediaplanet: How do you think the tourism industry in Alberta is contributing to the province’s economic development?

Richard Starke: Tourism has the potential to create opportunities all across Alberta, and we want tourism to play a bigger role in the economic diversification of our province.

Tourism is a $7.8 billion industry in Alberta, employs over 139,000 people, and has the potential to create even more jobs and grow businesses across our province.

Tourism also contributes to our high quality of life. Our festivals, events and other experiences make Alberta an attractive place to live. It’s one reason why Alberta is a province of choice for four million people.

“In Alberta, visitors have unparalleled opportunities to connect with nature, have a rustic and original rural experience, and enjoy dynamic metropolitan centres with some of the best dining, shopping, and cultural experiences in the world.”

MP: Do you think it is important for people to discover what’s just outside their own back door when travelling, as opposed to travelling outside of their province or country?

RS: Absolutely. Alberta is rich with compelling, authentic tourism experiences, and that’s something I’ve heard from people all over the world, and within our own province. In Alberta, visitors have unparalleled opportunities to connect with nature, have a rustic and original
rural experience, and enjoy dynamic metropolitan centres with some of the best dining, shopping, and cultural experiences in the world. Alberta has a unique cultural heritage and a range of experiences that really leads to an unforgettable experience for visitors.

Albertans are lucky enough to have all of these destinations in their own backyard, and really have a variety of opportunities to discover their own province. In fact, our research shows that if more Albertans visit other parts of their province, there is the potential to grow tourism revenues by 30 percent over the
next decade.

MP: Are more people traveling within the province? If so, why do you think that is?

RS: Albertans travelling in Alberta make up approximately 65 percent of tourism expenditures for our province. We have so many great experiences to offer, and Albertans are inspired to seek new experiences within their own province. I think the work that Travel Alberta does to market our own province is an important part of what’s being done to promote regional travel. Travel Alberta works closely with Alberta-based tourism operators to develop tourism opportunities, and promote these as compelling invitations for travellers.

MP: In terms of tourism, what do you think Alberta has to offer to both local residents and people from outside the province?

RS: Alberta has a breathtaking and varied landscape, and a multitude of festivals, sporting events, performing arts, heritage sites, and accommodations. Our province is the kind of place that has something for every kind of traveller, and opportunities to broaden the experiences of our visitors, beyond what they might have thought they would find.

Visitors can jump back in time 145 million years and explore the age of the dinosaur in the heart of the Canadian Badlands, check out the Calgary Stampede and take part in The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, or explore the iconic Rocky Mountains. Travel Alberta produces the Official Alberta Travel Planner which is a great tool for people looking for inspiration on the types of experiences our province has to offer.

MP: How can local RTO’s gear their business plans to promote tourism within Alberta?

RS: Making sure that we trade competition for collaboration, and work together to grow our tourism industry is critical to providing the best possible visitor experience, and to making the tourism industry a key player in Alberta’s economy.

That’s why I put into place the Alberta Tourism Framework, to provide a common vision and common goals for our tourism industry. Both Tourism, Parks and Recreation, and Travel Alberta work together to provide support to tourism operators all across the province. The Travel Alberta 2014 Spring Road Show is an excellent example of that kind of support. Representatives from Travel Alberta, my department, and local tourism operators will be holding events in 14 locations throughout the month of April to promote new and improved partnership programs and services that will provide support to these local operators.

Programs like these are what actually implement the priorities we set out through the Alberta Tourism Framework. It provides support in creating traveller experiences, effectively marketing our destinations and attractions. It also collaborates between industry partners, which enhances the tourism industry as well as
Alberta’s economy.