10 reasons to be excited about tourism in Calgary in 2014

By Stewart McDonough

Calgary has traditionally been known as for two things: as a gateway to the mountains and for the Calgary Stampede. Both are great assets, but they no longer tell the full story. Calgarians should take a look at what people around the world are saying about our city, take some measure of pride and invite their friends and family to enjoy our unique diversity of experiences. The good news is that the tourism growth we’re currently enjoying fuels product and infrastructure development, which then spurs more visitation in a positive cycle. 

Here are 10 reasons to be optimistic about Calgary’s tourism prospects in 2014.

1. There’s great buzz about Calgary across the country, the border and the pond
The New York Times recently listed Calgary at #17 on its list of “52 Places to Go in 2014” and it’s Sunday edition reaches 2.3 million subscribers. UK’s The Guardian recently selected Alberta, with Calgary as the city anchor, as the ninth best place to visit in the world in 2014. We’ve also garnered exposure in a variety of other major online and print publications recently including The Chicago Tribune and National Geographic.

2. Calgary is leading the nation
The Conference Board of Canada predicts that Calgary will lead the nation’s major cities for growth in overnight visits (4 per cent) and visitor spending (6.8 per cent). 

3. Three big anniversaries to celebrate
Heritage Park Historical Village’s 50th Anniversary, the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon’s 50th Anniversary and the Fairmont Palliser’s Centennial.

4. Second year for major clustered events in August and September
PGA Shaw Charity Classic, Opera in the Village, Masters at Spruce Meadows, Tour of Alberta (still to be confirmed) and Beakerhead. These five events are travel motivators, brand builders and show our unique diversity of tourism experiences.

5. Big event year
In 2014, Calgary will host 10 national championship events from broomball to rugby, 10 World Cup or major international sporting events and Cavalia’s larger-than-life equestrian theatrical production returns April 30.

6. Olympic Fever
Every Olympic year draws attention to past Olympic cities and Calgary gets great exposure because our visitors can visit our legacy facilities and experience the thrill of the bobsleigh, skate on the world’s fastest ice and see Olympic athletes train and compete regularly.

7. Afterglow from the DERTOUR Academy visit in 2013
Calgary and Banff hosted more than 600 top travel agents, key tourism partners and journalists from Germany, Austria and neighboring countries in December. Following the Academy, destinations have shown increases of at least 20 per cent in traffic from Germany. For Alberta, this means potential for an incremental 15,800 person-visits and $16 million in tourism expenditures

8. Significant new product and infrastructure development
a. The opening of the new Famous 5 Interpretive Centre and River Forth projects will be significant additions to the city and be showcased throughout Heritage Park Historical Village's 50th Anniversary Celebrations.
b. Komodo dragons, rhinos, mandrills (the world’s largest monkeys) and more will be coming to the Calgary Zoo.
c. We’ve estimated that an additional 2,400 rooms could be added through proposed hotel projects in the next three years, which would be a 20 per cent increase in Calgary’s room supply.
d. The Calgary Stampede continues to evolve and stay fresh with three significant development projects including the new Agrium Western Event Centre, Riverfront Park development and Youth Campus.
e. The new runway will be complete at the Calgary International Airport.

9. Growing recognition as a cosmopolitan centre
As UK’s The Guardian notes “For city life try Calgary, which has gone from cowboy town to cosmopolitan cool.” Perceptions of Calgary have grown because of recognition for remarkable culinary, culture and festival scenes and our impressive architectural and public art icons.

10.Working with our neighbours
New and growing partnerships with our surrounding communities with an emphasis on developing programs with Banff Lake Louise Tourism and Tourism Canmore Kananaskis.

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