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Published on : Tuesday, December 29, 2015
A weaker Canadian dollar has thrown open a window of travel opportunities that Alberta plans to take full advantage of, said Tourism Minister David Eggen who also wants to adopt B.C. tourism initiatives for his province. He said the province would do that by expanding travel opportunities beyond the traditional attractions of Banff and Jasper.
“We’ve seen over the last couple of years, record revenues and crowds into the mountain parks,” Eggen said in a year-end interview. “A lot of people have it as part of their bucket list. We just want to kind of expand on that.”
Eggen said he is impressed by British Columbia’s aggressive tourism strategy. Sitting in a restaurant in Pincher Creek recently, he said he spied a rack of tourism pamphlets — all for destinations in B.C.
“Expansion and partnering are the pillars of a seven-year plan, launched in 2013 under the former Progressive Conservative government, to grow tourism revenue by one-third to $10.3 billion.
Eggen said the heavy lifting will still be done by skiers, hikers, kayakers, sightseers and other visitors who stream into Banff and Jasper. He also wants to open up more areas for snowmobiling.
But new frontiers are opening up such as the Castle Wilderness region in Alberta’s southwest corner. In September, the province announced two parks in the region — one for camping, the second for back-country pursuits.
Pomeroy Lodging LP committed this fall to a $26-million upgrade of the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.
Alberta also is looking to secure more direct flights from Asia and is trying to bring in more visitors from U.S. destinations in Texas and southern California, who can already get to Alberta in one airplane ride.
The province excels for quite some time at turning “lemons into lemonade,” he said comparing.
One example is how the former Kettle Valley railway was transformed into a scenic, high-altitude mountain bike adventure.