June 19th, 2024

Tourism Relief Program funds helping put rubber to the road

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 7, 2023.

Last month the federal government invested $11.2 million into regional economic development for southern Alberta with 18 projects chosen in and around Lethbridge.

Looking to promote future growth, the Tourism Relief Program is helping tourism businesses and organizations position their location as a destination choice in Canada, as domestic and international travel rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tourism Relief Program funded $4,378,610 into four projects in the region, with some$265,000 going towards Tourism Lethbridge to develop an agri-food tourism strategy as well as driving tours for the Lethbridge region.

“At the beginning of 2022, we worked with a contractor called Food Tourism Strategies, they are out of Calgary, we worked with them doing some workshops, and capacity building. What came out of that was our first food tour (Canada’s Food Tours). It’s an eight-hour self-guided driving tour around Lethbridge County,” said Erin Crane, CEO Tourism Lethbridge. “When this funding came out through PrairiesCan, it was like: ‘This has been great, let’s do three more!’ So we are doing another food tour with the same contractors, we are also doing a Natural Resources tour with Progressive West Consulting, […] then our third tour is going to be an Indigenous tour, we have contracted Inspired Vacations, they are a local travel agency that have been doing a lot with the Indigenous community.”

To highlight the region for tourists, Tourism Lethbridge notes how these tours help local economic development.

“The idea here is that we want people coming to Lethbridge and stay a bit longer. The idea about the eight-hour tour is strategy, you have to stay another night in a hotel, you have three more meals, you have to go and get gas. Hopefully you are buying some merchandise as you go around these places. It is economic impact, that is what we are doing,” said Crane. “With the launch of the Agri-Food Trade Centre, we are going to be welcoming people from all over the world. My biggest fear, and always has been, is that when we host these conferences, that people come to Lethbridge and they go to the event and they go back to their hotel and never leave. I want to engage those visitors while they are here. Explore our region, there is so much to see and do. That is what this is about, where we capture more of that economic impact because they are already here, let’s show them what we have.”

Looking for ways to explore the region while contributing to economic growth, Tourism Lethbridge will also work to enhance culinary delights with its upcoming Great Taste of Canada tour, working with Culinary Tourism Alliance to create the best places to taste around Canada.

“You can’t tell that story without including the Lethbridge region,” adds Crane.

With more ways to attract tourism to Lethbridge, the team at Tourism Lethbridge is working with funding and grants to make sure our city continues to expand.

“We are small but we are mighty. We want to make sure that Lethbridge is on the map for everyone,” said Crane.

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