Tourism Calgary adapts to ever-changing sector

Cindy Ady, Tourism Calgary CEO, poses for a photo with Rod McKay, Chair, Calgary Sport & Major Events (L) and Dan DeSantis, Tourism Calgary Board Chair after a editorial board meeting with Postmedia Calgary on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Al Charest / Postmedia

When the inaugural WestJet Dreamliner flight departs Calgary for Paris on Friday, Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady will be among those on board.

The launch of the direct flight means a new market is opening up for Tourism Calgary, thanks to the reciprocal effects the passage is expected to generate in bringing visitors from France to the city.

“Before there was no direct flight,” Ady said during a Postmedia editorial board meeting Wednesday.

“People tended to go into Quebec or Quebec City. But now, with the new Dreamliner, it creates a whole new opportunity.”

That new tourism opportunity is an example of a “game that just never ceases to change,” Ady said.

One of the changing elements of the industry is marketing. Instead of running big campaigns, Ady said, the work is taking place each day through social media.

“One of the things that has changed for us, I think, fundamentally is we can get real-time data,” she said. “We’re not looking at Stats Can data that’s two years old.”

New approaches the organization has recently taken include a goal to create “a city of ambassadors” through a pass to local attractions distributed to front-line staff who come into contact with visitors.

Tourism Calgary has also launched a free online training opportunity for tourism industry members called White Hat Academy, which includes images, stories about the city and insider tips for experiencing the best of Calgary.

“It takes you into a quadrant of the city of your choice and then you get to move around it, see what there is to do there, and become knowledgeable about the city,” Ady said.

WinSport has become a popular tourist attraction in the winter and summer. Gavin Young Gavin Young / 20075837A

Also new this year is the integration of Meetings and Conventions Calgary into Tourism Calgary to centralize sales and marketing efforts.


GOT NEWS? click here

possible to reach millions worldwide
Google News, Bing News, Yahoo News, 200+ publications


In 2018, Calgary saw 7.7 million overnight visitors, which translated into a $2-billion contribution to the local economy. Calgary also attracted 89 events last year, bringing $108 million in economic activity to the city — a growth of seven per cent from 2017.

Since January of 2017, 25 of 27 months have seen growth in overnight stays in Calgary. The first quarter of 2019 was up by 4.9 per cent over the same period in 2018, said Cassandra McAuley, executive director of stakeholder engagement and destination development.

Looking ahead, Tourism Calgary is throwing its support behind opportunities like the expansion of the BMO Centre into a Tier 1 convention centre.

Ady said Tourism Calgary has moved into an “advocacy phase” that has focused largely on the Calgary Municipal Land Corp.’s Rivers District development plan, which aims to transform east Victoria Park into an arts and entertainment district. She called the plan a bigger picture that could turn the area into “the living room of the city.”

Tourism Calgary officials will be “big advocates” for the major projects the plan calls for, Ady said, including a new arena.

“The fact that the BMO Centre finally got a Yes is really a very important change in the conversation,” said Rod McKay, chair of Calgary Sport and Major Events committee.

McKay added the challenge is not only promoting expansion opportunities but maintaining the city’s existing tourism assets.

“WinSport is a clear asset for the city,” he said. “The required maintenance of that is vital to actually hosting. It is a place that the world will come to if we continue to invest in it. So there’s a challenge really around maintaining what we have as you get excited about the new.”


TAGS