Jasper tourism aiming to rebound with innovation and new tactics

Published on : Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The usually packed restaurants and gift shops of Jasper are empty, similar to blocks of hotel parking lots in the western Alberta mountain town.

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a standstill in March 2020, the tourism-dependent town immediately felt its impact.

Usually packed with tens of thousands of visitors, the mountain escape only had to witness its 5,000 residents with zero visitors.

Eventually, although slowly, Albertans started to come back. Some chose the destination after canceling international trips.

After being open for more than a decade, CoCo’s Café witnessed its customer base decline from mostly tourists to all locals.

“I had so much support and it was not enough without tourism, Jasper would not survive. Like, there is no possible way,” said café owner Lynn Wannop.

Jasper knows that tourism will be important in its economic recovery; however, attracting visitors and catering to a changed way of life will take a lot of innovation.

In the past, marketing centered on the obvious assets that the town offers. Tourism Jasper President and CEO James Jackson calls it the “mountains, moose and Mounties” method.

But Jackson is moving away from that and focusing on the safety of the town. That includes booking a fully self-service cabin where visitors can avoid possible virus exposure from other tourists.

In its website, Tourism Jasper has an entire page dedicated to the LGBTQ travelers.

Blogs, videos and photos feature the LGBTQ community, providing them with recommendations regarding where to eat, sleep and visit.

Jackson explained,“There wasn’t a sophisticated marketing strategy developed to focus specifically on that market. We just sort of looked at our community, the values that it holds and realized that, you know, this place is incredibly open and safe, welcoming and inclusive.”

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