April 15th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 15
Crowsnest Pass to become
sin city of the Rockies?
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Stock Photo
Pass Herald Reporter
Can the Pass become a travel destination? Yes, said Cameron Spence, industry relations manager with Travel Alberta.
But only if stores stay open past six p.m.
The Pass needs nightlife, packaged experiences and savvy niche marketing if it wants to increase tourism said Spence at the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting at Country Encounters on April 8.
“Seventy per cent of all retail tourism happens after six o’clock at night,” he said. “If there’s nothing happening in the community in the evenings, it’s going to be pretty difficult for tourists to spend money.”
After touring the community last week, Spence noted that the Pass shuts down towards evening, especially in Coleman’s old downtown core.
He suggested local retailers come up with strategies to stay open after dark such as identifying opportunities for collective late night shopping initiatives.
The Pass also would do well to capitalize on its lack of mainstream popularity by developing niche programing for tourists looking to travel off the beaten track.
To do this, businesses in the Pass would need to cooperate to create package holidays centering on a specific activity such as snowmobiling, skiing, mountain biking or fly-fishing.
“When people come to the Crowsnest Pass, they come here because they want to do something. So the key is to build programing around specific activities that you’re strong in,” said Spence.
Though the Pass, like many rural Albertan communities, suffers from a lack of marketable experiences, industry research shows that tourists are increasingly looking for destinations that are off the beaten track and the Pass certainly qualifies, said Spence.
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The problem is there’s more money in offering mainstream experiences that appeal to a wider audience.
“It’s difficult to squeeze profitability out of customization,” said Spence. “This is something we’re trying to get our heads around.”
In Alberta, tourism is tied to heritage industries and Spence said that every time there is a drop in the energy industry there is a corresponding drop in tourism because the majority of tourists in Alberta are themselves Albertan.
“When people have more money, they have discretionary money and they spend it on travel,” he said.
Data shows that tourism is becoming a primary global industry responsible for about nine per cent of the world’s GDP. More than a billion people travel every year.
In Canada, tourists spend about $82 billion per year and support over 600,000 related businesses. Alberta’s tourism industry supports more than 50,000 jobs.
In Alberta, tourism is an $8 billion a year industry but Spence said Travel Alberta has set the lofty goal of growing that figure to $10.3 billion by 2020.
April 15th ~ Vol. 85 No. 15
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