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International press puts Calgary on the map for U.S. tourists

Packaging that perfect blend of coffee has been a labour of love for Phil Robertson, the co-founder of the Calgary cafe, Phil & Sebastia. He even helped assemble and refurbish the vintage coffee roaster. After years of hard work, someone special took notice.

“If for no other reason,  I’ve got 20 phone calls and 10 emails from that one article,” Robertson said speaking of a recent New York Times article.

Since it was published a month ago, Robertson has heard from excited family and friends, but also new customers. A couple from Montreal added the cafe to their list of things to try while visiting Calgary.

“They have a son in New York City, who saw the article. He told his parents about it in Montreal. They made a note to visit some of those places,” Robertson said.

“They’ll make a stop in one of our places they otherwise wouldn’t have known about.”

Calgary Tourism can’t say if international publicity is luring visitors here, but it isn’t hurting.

In fact, in 2017 the number of Americans visiting Alberta increased by 9.4 per cent, nearly three times the national average.

“We’re hosting publications all the time, whether it be the Toronto Star or The Globe and Mail,” said Jeff Hessel, VP of marketing at Tourism Calgary.

“We always pitching stories about what you can see and do in Calgary. You pitch these stories and every once in a while they stick.”

The New York Times writer visited on her own accord, highlighting everything from Calgary’s culinary scene to park pathways.

“It was a winter itinerary for her. We don’t see a lot of winter stories about Calgary,” Hessel said.

“The other thing that was interesting, it was really Calgary-focused.”

As for Robertson, he has always promoted his business locally, but says reaching a new audience is helping him sell his coffee around the world.

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