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Message from Minister of Culture and Tourism

By Honourable David Eggen

On behalf of the Government of Alberta, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the first edition of the Tourism Entrepreneurship Newsletter.

Tourism is a major contributor to Alberta’s economy, bringing in annual revenues of $8 billion. Small businesses have been a large part of the tourism industry’s success. Many of the 19,000 plus businesses involved in tourism in Alberta are in fact, small businesses.

Alberta is a four-season destination with so much to offer: the iconic Canadian Rocky Mountains, the alluring Canadian Badlands, peaceful prairies, placid lakes, a diverse cultural history and vibrant urban and rural centres. Epitomizing this province’s pioneering spirit, Alberta’s tourism entrepreneurs will no doubt play a crucial role in reaching $10.3 billion within the tourism industry by 2020.

To support our entrepreneurs, the government recently launched the Tourism Entrepreneurship Program with new and enhanced programs and services, including this newsletter for tourism entrepreneurs.

Our newsletter resources will assist you in pursuing your tourism business opportunities whether you’re just at the idea stage or are ready for the expansion stage. Our featured success stories will inspire you to learn more about the vast entrepreneurial opportunities that our province’s tourism industry has to offer. Expect to see many more exciting initiatives in the coming year!

I wish you the greatest success in all your entrepreneurial endeavours.

Tourism Entrepreneurship Program

By Culture and Tourism

We are pleased to introduce the Tourism Entrepreneurship Program, an expansion and enhancement of our services to assist entrepreneurs interested in starting or growing their tourism industry business.

The goal of the program is to increase entrepreneurship activity in Alberta’s tourism industry. The program aims to increase investment in the development of compelling, must-experience tourism destinations to grow tourism in Alberta to $10.3 billion by 2020.

Objectives of the Tourism Entrepreneur Program include:

  • Facilitate growth of new tourism business start-ups
  • Encourage existing businesses to innovate, expand and refresh their tourism product offerings
  • Build capacity of entrepreneurs to undertake new and expanded tourism business opportunities
  • Create awareness of government and industry resources available to entrepreneurs
  • Leverage programs and services available through the Tourism Division with those provided by partner agencies

Start planning your future today. Check out the Tourism Entrepreneurship web page for a full list of the interesting events and services the program has to offer you.

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Got an innovative idea but don’t know where to start? We can help!

By Business Link

If you've got an innovative idea and the motivation to take the next step, we’ll connect you with the most relevant small business resources to help you succeed.

We offer a variety of services to help you get your business off the ground:

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You can also find business resources on our newly re-vamped website. We have information to help with planning, financing and starting your business.

Our website also features some of the successful businesses we’ve played a part in helping, like Kara and Nevin Fenske of Drift Food Truck. In the early phases of their business, they really needed guidance, as they didn’t even know where to start. “You walk in the doors of the Business Link and you can just talk to somebody to help you sort out all the things you need to get started”, says Kara Fenske. “You need somebody who’s main focus is helping you. We valued that the most.”

If you’re like Nevin and Kara, we’d love to help you make your business idea a reality. Drop us a line at or give us a call: 1-800-272-9675.

Business Link is Alberta's entrepreneurial hub. We are a non-profit organization that helps Alberta entrepreneurs start their own businesses.

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Tourism Trends

By Culture and Tourism

Competition in the tourism industry is building in both Canada and around the world. To stay positioned competitively for the future, tourism operators must be innovative and align their tourism experience with what consumers are expecting.

Globalization has resulted in a very fast paced world and if you’re not innovating, you can be sure someone else is. To ensure your experience stays competitive, and aligns with business goals, operators need to understand market trends and how their business needs to grow accordingly.

Growing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re expanding operations, but there are many ways to improve upon current best practices. If your target market is millennials (a person born in the 1980s or 1990s) it would be important to know that in 2014, 80 per cent of millennials’ travel decisions were influenced by online reviews. This will impact the level of social media and focus of online presence your experience needs in order to stay competitive.

Travel Alberta and the Tourism Division of Alberta Culture and Tourism present current research, findings and updates on Alberta's tourism industry to support the effectiveness of future destination and experience marketing.

Other great resources for researching and understanding tourism trends include:

Internet research is another great tool to find current trends. A simple search can reveal trends that you may not have thought of. You never know where your next innovative idea will come from, and the key to staying current is knowing what experiences are being sought by tourists currently visiting your area.

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Women Growing Businesses

By Alberta Woman Entrepreneurs

81 per cent of women with a business in Alberta are intentionally trying to grow their business (1).

Alberta is a compelling destination for tourists around the globe. Whether you find yourself in our Rocky Mountain parks on an outdoor adventure or exploring the Canadian Badlands digging for dinosaur bones, our province has something for everyone.

Tourism not only benefits travellers from afar, it benefits our economy and our communities. Tourism in Alberta contributes $9.2 billion to Alberta’s economy and 127,000 jobs within 19,000 businesses (2). There are no doubt challenges to growing any business, but the possibilities in tourism development are plentiful in the beautiful province of Alberta.

With small and medium sized businesses representing 95 per cent of the business in Alberta (3) and 38 per cent of them being owned/run by women (4), Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is excited to see how we can support the growing tourism industry in our province.

AWE strongly believes our communities are stronger when women are full participants in entrepreneurship and economy. As a resource for businesses across Alberta, AWE supports women entrepreneurs from start up to growth and ranging in industries from Tourism to Oil and Gas, selling direct to consumers or direct to other businesses. As businesses continue to grow in Alberta, it is important to seek new opportunities and new resources to help support your growth. For AWE those programs include our Performance Learning Series for Business to Consumer or our Growth Program for Business to Business.

The AWE business to business growth program is a one year intensive business acceleration curriculum that includes; professionally facilitated leadership development, business skills development, advising support and mentorship in a structured peer group setting, designed to address the unique needs of entrepreneurs who are seeking to grow their business. Upon completion of the one year program, our participants report average annual growth of revenue and employment of 31 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

With the right support and tactics a tourism business in Alberta will continue to thrive.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs is a provincial non-profit organization dedicated to enabling women to build successful businesses. AWE has 20 years of experience providing unique programs and services to women in business through mentoring, advising, access to new markets, financing , skills and network development.

We manage and administer a lending pool of capital of over $6 million with repayable debt financing of up to $150,000 per client company. We engage approximately 2000 potential and emerging growth entrepreneurs on an annual basis and are interconnected with other regional, national and international entrepreneurship ecosystem groups from government, non-profit and private sectors.

  1. Source: ATB Business Beat, Volume 5 May 2014 - ATB Business
  2. Source: Ministry of Culture and Tourism
  3. Source: Small Business, Big Impact: Alberta Small Business Profile, 2013
  4. Source: ATB Business Beat, Volume 5 May 2014 - ATB Business

Canmore Cave Tours: Heritage Tourism Strengthened by Approvals

By Canmore Cave Tours

Under Grotto Mountain in Canmore, one can find a four-kilometre cave that hosts a record of our ancient history. Rat’s Nest Cave is home to pictographs, copious mineral formations, and bones that are up to 7000 years old, representing 75 per cent of Alberta’s mammals and birds, including the extinct passenger pigeon - leftovers from an ancient Alberta culture.

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The site comprised an amazing tourism development opportunity, but one that faced two complications: improper use by random recreational visitors and the possibility of it being mined in the future. The site was on quarry land owned by Graymont, North America’s second largest supplier of lime.

The solution? Canmore Cave Tours successfully applied to the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation for protected status as a natural history site. They received the second protected status for natural history given by the Foundation.

“We now have the tools to protect the cave - the provincial designation and a private property component,” says owner/operator Adam Walker.

It turned out that Graymont was appreciative of the application for protected status because it controlled entry into the cave system, eliminating their risk of liability for random visitors. The site is now maintained as a three-way partnership between Canmore Cave Tours, Graymont and the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. “We’ve built good relationships and trust over the years. We’ve just renewed a five-year agreement.”

Canmore Cave Tours is one of the top-rated attractions in Alberta. It appeals to the FIT segment - Free, Independent Travellers. About 4500 people visit annually, 75 per cent from Alberta. The company follows the caver’s motto: take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints; and kill nothing but time.

Last reviewed/revised: June 20, 2017
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