Explore Edmonton releases Tourism Master Plan

Explore Edmonton releases Tourism Master Plan

· The Pulse
By Andy Trussler

Explore Edmonton has published the city's first integrated Tourism Master Plan. The almost 30-page document outlines "tourist experiences that match visitor expectations and position Edmonton as a year-round destination of choice."

Last fall, Explore Edmonton put together a steering committee with partners from across the tourism industry "to assist in the prioritization of efforts and investments to address the triple bottom line." That includes economic growth, the needs of visitors and residents, and the planet — striving to develop tourism experiences that are responsible, sustainable, and regenerative.

What's in the plan:

  • The committee developed seven strategic goals with concrete recommendations for each. The goals are:

    • Strengthen awareness and perception of the Edmonton place brand.
    • Support the development, enhancement and stewardship of year-round visitor experiences.
    • Activate the river valley to create a more vibrant destination and gathering place.
    • Create a dynamic, well-designed and accessible urban experience.
    • Improve access, mobility and connectivity.
    • Utilize a holistic, innovative and personalized approach to visitor servicing.
    • Expand tourism investment and regional collaboration.
  • Some of the recommendations linked to the goals include a continuous trail system in the River Valley, new street transformation policies to improve safety and accessibility, and inviting more festivals and events to the city.

  • Explore Edmonton said its overall vision for the city is for it to be "a vibrant urban centre serving up the perfect blend of big city vibes and exhilarating outdoor adventure" by 2030.

  • The plan was published following the April release of the City of Edmonton's Economic Action Plan. "Each complements the other and reinforces the roles that both tourism and economic development have a role to play in creating a more vibrant, prosperous and resilient Edmonton," said Maggie Davison, interim CEO of Explore Edmonton.

How was it developed:

  • COVID-19 debilitated Edmonton's "visitor economy" in 2020. There were more than six million visitors to the city from around the globe in 2019, according to Explore Edmonton.
    • Tourism Economics produced a 10-year forecast for visits to the city. Edmonton's economy is predicted to see "nearly 40% growth over 2019 visitation levels" despite COVID-19's impact on business. Visitor spending levels "are not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2026."
  • Tourism consultation firm MMGY Nextfactor hosted focus groups, assessments, one-on-one interviews, and online surveys. Information was gathered from key stakeholders and residents of the Edmonton metro area.

What's next:

  • While implementing the plan's strategic recommendations over the next decade, Explore Edmonton said it will also offer residents and businesses assistance through collaborative initiatives and projects.
  • Any strategic initiatives resulting from the plan will be "incorporated into Explore Edmonton's annual business plans" to ensure "the work plan becomes a natural part of the organization's values and operations, not a one-time activity."

Photo: Mack Male/Flickr