June 18th, 2024

New agreement targets more sport tourism events for Lethbridge

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 6, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Two local organizations have signed a memorandum of agreement to promote sport tourism in Lethbridge.

The announcement was made Thursday morning by Erin Crane, Tourism Lethbridge CEO and Susan Eymann, executive director of the Lethbridge Sport Council.

The two organizations have worked together for years and the MOA formalizes their working relationship.

Sport tourism, say Eymann and Crane, is extremely important to the Lethbridge economy and while high-profile events such as the Brier get public attention, the smaller scale events that go on during the year can provide just as much or more of a financial boost to the city.

The Brier last March generated $16.8 million of economic activity for the area, supporting 128 local jobs and $5.4 million in local wages and salaries.

The partnership is expected to increase the number of events staged in the city and southern Alberta.

“Throughout 2022, we’ve been working with Tourism Lethbridge on several initiatives and together with combining our expertise, we really can grow towards our sport tourism potential. The community of Lethbridge has great hosts for either weekend events or major one-time events over a number of decades and we just want to grow that,” said Eymann.

Eymann said the groups are looking at priorities and what’s within their capacity.

“It really is about reinvigorating the partnership with all the stakeholders,” added Eymann.

A sport tourism advisory committee exists which restarted last January, she said. Working with the community to hear everyone’s vision is a goal along with doing “a much better job at volunteer management. Sport volunteers are typically parents and sport is run by volunteers. We would like to develop a management system that helps us communicate to all the volunteers and provide them the opportunities that they’re looking for and help the host committees and the sport organizations get the volunteers that they need,” she added.

According to Crane, “Lethbridge is a sport town. We know this and there has been so many great events that have happened here in Lethbridge. And all of that is tourism related.

“This is exactly what tourism is about. So this partnership is extremely important to us,” said Crane.

In 2017, the City did a destination management plan and in that plan sports and business events “were highlighted as one of the opportunities for Lethbridge to really capitalize on and to grow,” said Crane.

The new partnership will allow the groups to focus on that, she said.

“The Sport Council have been amazing partners this year and we’ve always had a really good working relationship with them” so to be able to solidify it with the memorandum allows more to be done in coming years, Crane said.

“We’re working collaboratively, we’re not competing, we’re not duplicating. We’re aligning and we’re going at it together which is fantastic for both of our organizations,” added Crane.

“It’s about building capacity, that’s a lot of what we’re doing here. This is where Lethbridge Sport Council really comes in to help do that. They work directly with those sports organizations and can help get them to that event-ready place and be ready to host more of those things.”

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