Parker: Tourism Calgary working on turning city into top destination

Parker: Tourism Calgary working on turning city into top destination
Cindy Ady, CEO Tourism Calgary, and Cassandra McAuley, exec director stakeholder engagement & destination development. Handout for David Parker column, Aug. 2, 2018.

On Thursday last week, Calgary International Airport recorded its busiest day of the year when more than 52,000 travellers passed through YYC.

Some were here on business, others visiting relatives, on vacation, or perhaps just on a brief transfer before heading for the mountains. No matter, we hope they all felt welcome to Calgary, and Tourism Calgary is leading the charge to ensure that happens and the number of visitors continues to increase.

A year ago following research conducted by Edelman, a group of over 100 stakeholders were invited to share their insights on how to make Calgary a destination of choice for all visitors.

One of the results was to announce a new collective tourism strategy: Calgary: Ultimate Hosts Ultimate Host City.

A new initiative was launched this past May known as Ultimate Host Designation to recognize organizations whose strategies and tactics benefit the city as part of a collective, stakeholder-led vision that articulates Calgary’s identified competitive advantages and marketplace position, establishes key recommendations and provides a framework for making Calgary the ultimate host city.

The program has already gained significant traction, with Arts Commons, Beakerhead, Calgary Arts Development, Calgary Municipal Land Corp. and Heritage Park Historical Village being the first five organizations to earn the designation.

Cassandra McAuley, executive director, stakeholder and destination development at Tourism Calgary, says other organizations have applied for the designation and she expects upwards of 15 designates to be part of the program by fall. Most recently it was awarded to the Calgary Stampede.

Ultimate Host City designates are welcomed into a community of like-minded and qualified organizations where collaboration is encouraged, exclusive opportunities are available and contributions to the city receive significant recognition.

Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady says her organization is honoured and excited to represent stakeholders through leadership in this important work.

“This combined effort toward making Calgary the Ultimate Host City will not only have a positive impact on the organizations involved but will stimulate the local economy, build the city, amplify experiences, enhance the quality of life, intensify the city’s vibrancy and foster community spirit,” she said.

The organization launched a new website created by Critical Mass earlier this year and other new initiatives are being launched this fall by Tourism Calgary, including a Calgary White Hat Academy.

To help ensure we provide visitors with the best experience, it is important that front-line ambassadors are passionate about their city and equipped with the right information to pass on.

Industry employees — like taxi drivers, hotel concierges and servers — will be encouraged to take the program online and continue to be kept up to date.

Next month, Tourism Calgary welcomes Carson Ackroyd as senior vice-president of sales. His main focus will be on bidding for sports, culture and major events. He gets off to a good start inheriting next year’s menu, which includes the Country Music Awards and Grey Cup, that will result in many room nights and a big boost to our restaurants and retail stores.

This city provides any number of facilities to get fit and stay healthy as well as the miles of walking and running pathways. And they also provide Calgary with a huge economic impact, both in professional and amateur sports.

Debate continues over the need for a new hockey rink, football stadium and field house as well as a nail-biting time for a decision on the bid for another Winter Olympics.

Many businesses do and will continue to benefit from major sporting events, but a recently released study conducted by Calgary Economic Development and its partners for the year 2016 has shed light on the importance of amateur sport.

The results show that local amateur sport is a significant contributor to city and regional economics. “Gross Municipal Amateur Sport Product” in Calgary was over $1.2 billion, representing the sum of expenditures such as household consumption, various levels of government, balance of trade and other private capital investment.

The effect on employment was almost 17,000 full-time jobs and volunteers provided an estimated 15 million hours of service.

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