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Travel Alberta believes southern Alberta is primed for tourism growth

Travel Alberta wants to double pre-COVID-19 pandemic spending by visitors to the province to more than $20-billion annually by 2035.

Destination development manager Andi Dzilums believes the Lethbridge-Medicine Hat region holds plenty of potential to help foster that growth.

“We have an amazing opportunity for highlighting some of the cultural, historical and even culinary assets that already exist in the region,” Dzilums said.

One focus for Travel Alberta is increasing traffic in areas outside typical destinations like the Rocky Mountains, Edmonton and Calgary.

“We have this opportunity to kind of complement what our mature destinations are already achieving,” Dzilums said.

To grow southern Alberta as a travel destination, the Crown corporation is working with local officials such of Tourism Lethbridge CEO Erin Crane.

“Everyone plays a part in the economy,” Crane said. “It’s about pulling everyone together and finding out where those gaps and opportunities are and grabbing them as best we can.”

As pandemic recovery continues, Crane is seeing positive signs from our neighbours south of the border.

“We are located so close to the United States,” Crane said. “That Alaska Highway is a huge one and we saw a lot of that over the summer — we’re the first stop for those U.S. travellers coming across the region. We actually see a higher volume than most places in Alberta.”

According to Economic Development Lethbridge CEO Trevor Lewington, that added traffic can support multiple sectors.

“Anytime you get visitors spending on hotels, restaurants and in your stores or attending events, that’s new, fresh money coming into the economy,” Lewington said.

As Travel Alberta encourages visitors to adventure on roads less travelled, they’re also offering grants to support tourism initiatives. Applications will open in the spring.

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