It is undeniable: more than ever, tourism is becoming a major economic driver for Canada. In fact, 2018 brought a record-breaking 21.1 million overnight international visitors to our country. Edmonton felt it too, as Edmonton International Airport celebrated its best year to date with more than 8.2 million domestic and global travellers served. As those numbers are expected to grow, the importance of tourism as a thriving economic sector cannot be overlooked. In 2018, Edmonton Tourism generated $63 million in economic impact and secured 92,814 room nights. From over 68,000 hospitality jobs in Edmonton to direct, indirect and induced spending, the visitor economy is a vital contributor to the prosperity of our destination.
The big picture
As a division of Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), Edmonton Tourism’s mandate is simple: increase year-round sustainable visitation through the work of its strategic planning process. Operating under the brand Explore Edmonton, Edmonton Tourism encourages people to visit our city, stay longer and spend more. Our team helps to drive revenue into the destination and contributes to Edmonton’s greater economic impact through programs and initiatives that positively impact our city’s image and awareness in regional and international markets.
To see visitation at our hotels, attractions and experience providers reach peak levels, Edmonton Tourism works tirelessly to ensure that our city bustles with sports and cultural events, festivals, meetings and conventions 52 weeks of the year.
In 2018, Edmonton City Council approved a major event growth and attraction strategy that anchors Edmonton Tourism’s researching, prospecting and bidding efforts on major sport and cultural events, meetings and conventions, and trade shows and exhibitions that align with the city’s strengths and diverse economic sectors. Attracting conventions and major events means more people come to Edmonton all year long and impact the local economy.
Edmonton Tourism works in partnership with one of its main funders, Edmonton Destination Management Hotels (EDMH), to secure year-round maximum hotel occupancy. Edmonton Tourism’s Meetings & Conventions unit drives room night opportunities and qualified leads for EDMH as well as the Edmonton Convention Centre and Edmonton EXPO Centre, also divisions of EEDC. Recent achievements include welcoming the 2019 SingularityU Canada Summit to Edmonton and securing the 2019 National Conference on Ending Homelessness. Edmonton Events, a partnership between the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Tourism, looks after the sports and cultural events side of the business. Recent successes include hosting the 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw, named Canadian Sport Event of the Year at the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance PRESTIGE Awards, and winning the bids for the 2019 Canadian Ultimate Championships and the 2020 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final. These efforts have propelled Edmonton to the 33rd place on the 2019 Global Sports Impact Cities Index.
Crucial to the success of Edmonton as a destination is the work that is undertaken in partnership with Edmonton International Airport (EIA). Through marketing initiatives, generating and selling Edmonton itineraries to international visitors, Edmonton Tourism works alongside EIA to ensure that airplanes are full of business and leisure travellers, direct flights continue to operate and new air routes are developed. An example of this partnership, last year EIA in collaboration with Air Canada and other partners launched a daily non-stop flight from Edmonton to San Francisco.
Edmonton Tourism strives to create unforgettable memories that will make visitors not only want to stay longer, but also come back and experience more Edmonton.
From development to engagement
To guarantee that our city’s leisure offerings are plentiful and ready to sell internationally, Edmonton Tourism works closely with ground operators, attractions, hotels, experience providers and festivals to help develop products and experiences that are unique to Edmonton. With a focus on river valley, culinary, Indigenous and dark sky experiences, Edmonton Tourism provides the hospitality industry with business consultations, experience and product pilots, marketplace development support and training opportunities. In 2018, development efforts supported the launch of the free Parkbus service to Elk Island National Park, CBC YEG Walks and Urban Pedal Tours to name a few.
Awareness of Edmonton as a travel destination is generated through pitching stories to writers, editors and photographers, and securing coverage that resonates with travellers worldwide. Content producers are hosted in Edmonton in collaboration with hotel, restaurant and attraction partners, selected based on the theme of the subsequent coverage, such as culinary, outdoor adventure, shopping and winter fun. Recently, Edmonton was featured in the BBC’s Great Canadian Railway Journeys, WestJet Magazine and The Globe and Mail.
Export-ready attractions and experiences are then marketed and sold to global audiences that align with Edmonton Tourism’s target markets. Targeted campaigns and ads, promoting the city’s offerings on Explore Edmonton’s online and offline channels, encourage people to visit Edmonton. Recently, Edmonton Tourism won an IABC Award of Excellence for Digital Communications for its new website launched last fall in partnership with DDB Canada.
Next, Edmonton itineraries are sold to global receptive tour operators, emphasizing our city as the gateway to the North and the Rocky Mountains. Edmonton Tourism collaborates with its tourism stakeholders to coordinate and lead familiarization tours where tour operators experience what Edmonton has to offer, so that they would add Edmonton to their travel packages. Additionally, economic impact is generated through promoting and selling itineraries and room nights at international sales missions and marketplaces.
Finally, Edmonton Tourism provides YEG Expert destination training to tourism frontline staff to enable them to recommend local gems to visitors. By sharing their Edmonton favourites with visitors, they make their experiences memorable, favour a booming local economy and shine a light on Edmonton as an exceptional place to visit year-round.