“When you look at the availability of landscapes, it’s not really that notion that we can build resorts in every corner of the province. It’s about the idea that each area is geographically unique. The biodiversity in this region is worth preserving, celebrating and sharing. You will improve people’s attitudes towards conservation when you experience these things. “
BOW VALLEY – A new study aims to provide feedback on how Albertans are recovering outdoors on the Crown Land to measure the economic impact they are having regionally and across the province.
The survey is being conducted by the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta, a nonprofit advocacy group, to better understand Crown Land’s economic roles in the province.
In the past, individual economic studies were carried out. However, this is the first study to look at the aspect of outdoor recreation in crown lands, said Darren Reeder, a TIAA board advisor.
“It is one of our greatest opportunities as a province to develop tourism, and not just tourism, but in a sustainable way,” he said. “When you look at the availability of landscapes, it’s not really that notion that we can build resorts in every corner of the province. It’s about the idea that each area is geographically unique. The biodiversity in this region is worth preserving, celebrating and sharing. You will improve people’s attitudes towards conservation when you experience these things. “
Crown lands are part of the protected parks and areas under the Public Areas Act and make up about 60 percent of the province.
The land can serve a variety of purposes, from outdoor recreation to the maintenance or exercise of the rights of indigenous treaties, tourism, and resource-based industries.
“It is one of the most beautiful protected areas from a biodiversity perspective, some of the most incredible landscapes that we have to share with people,” said Reeder. “Then the question arises what our values are and how we would use the area.”
He noted that the government’s policy framework for supporting and attracting investment in crown lands did not always have a solid “policy enabling framework”, but something has changed in recent years.
In the past, an investor might start with an idea, but there was no predictable route across the province to complete a commercial evaluation or guide employees through the process. He said a lack of security has led investors to flee to other provinces where the process is more standardized.
“Some of the greatest opportunities for future economic development will be how we can introduce people to the countryside, how they can use crown lands seasonally or every four years to create new business opportunities,” Reeder said.
“This is not necessarily about great infrastructure opportunities, but about people who equip and guide themselves in very different geographical areas of the province at different times of the year,” he added, giving ideas such as canoeing expeditions, climbing, hiking and snowmobiling as examples.
The TIAA has advocated a better understanding of the economic impact of outdoor recreation on the crown land. The organization released a report last year – Call to Action Report: Recommendations to Accelerate the Recovery, Sustainable Growth, and Resilience of the Alberta Visitor Economy – and the study is part of the overall strategy.
The group is working with the Province and Travel Alberta to meet the goal announced in the last provincial budget of doubling Alberta’s tourism economy to $ 20 billion a year by 2030.
Invest Alberta, a Crown company dedicated to attracting investment in the province, has stated that tourism generates approximately $ 8 billion in annual sales and more than 36 million visitors.
A 2018 study by Statistics Canada Travel Survey of Residents of Canada confirmed the numbers that $ 8.2 billion was spent on tourism and 35.2 million visits.
Travel Alberta estimates that there will be around 68,800 tourism jobs and around 20,000 tourism businesses in Alberta in 2018.
While tourism helps people see some of Canada’s most beautiful areas, the province also places a heavy levy on hotel and other lodging revenues. In 2019, the Alberta government received $ 89 million from a hotel levy. It was estimated that $ 92 million should be raised in 2020, but after a reduction during the pandemic, only $ 25 million was received to allow the affected companies to keep the revenue.
Although tourists have still come to Bow Valley and increased vaccinations at the end of the tunnel have shed light on the tax, the levy is unlikely to rise again to $ 92 million by 2023/24.
“This idea of introducing people to convey the culture, heritage and natural geography of a region is something that every community has as part of its history. There are generations of storytellers and people know how to lead equipment expeditions, go hunting, go hiking in the backcountry, or go camping in the backcountry, ”Reeder said. “Virtually every township and land base in the province has scalable economic development opportunities, and we can do these things on a large scale in a sustainable way.”
Reeder, former CEO of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Banff and Lake Louise Hospitality Association for more than a decade, said the study is expected to be completed and published this summer.
While recent decisions and policy changes regarding coal development on Crown Land were being made during the same period, the survey was planned before the province’s announcements. Reeder also said one goal is to develop an endorsement document of strategic guidelines to aid outdoor recreation and visitor economy.
“What we want to learn at the end of the day is broad based when we look across the province. We have a feel for the types of visitors replicating what they hope to do in those areas or what they have done in the various land areas. Then we can see what economic impact the region had on this activity, both on the direct, indirect and induced aspects. “
Individuals can visit http://s.alchemer-ca.com/s3/efcf041bdcc3 to take the survey.
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