Travel Drumheller, Drumheller & District Chamber of Commerce (DDCC), and the Town of Drumheller have teamed up to drive the economy in a positive direction through tourism.
A pilot project called the Tourism Industry Business Retention and Expansion (TIBRE) survey initiated by the provincial government’s Culture and Tourism department is set to begin within a couple of weeks to determine the current status of tourism within Drumheller and how the tourism industry affects the population as a whole.
“Drumheller is one of the great rural communities that actually has a legitimate world class product,” said Travel Drumheller Marketing Consultant Alyssa Barry. “We have the geography, we have these world class attractions and so from a product perspective we are already there so it’s kind of a nice baseline to look at in terms that the community is a tourism destination.”
Step one is to implement a survey with local business owners directly or indirectly affected by tourism. Owners will be called beforehand to set up a time to chat with volunteers from the community conducting the survey. Barry says it won’t take longer than an hour.
“They will be one-on-one in person interviews, they are not going to be bringing anything you have to hand in. Everything will be confidential obviously but all this information is going to go to help better and support the tourism sector in Drumheller,” said Barry.
Education is key to building a strong foundation. The survey will highlight jobs, revenue and potential opportunities. It will also gauge what jobs and how many are affected by the economy and find any gaps that may need to be addressed. It provides them with an analysis of where Drumheller is lacking and where the town is doing well.
“We do know that the culinary area is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry where people travel for food and so Drumheller can start looking at opportunities for investments, vendors or restaurants or chefs or all that sort of stuff coming to town,” said Barry.
Alberta’s tourism industry has created $9 Billion in revenue for the province. Travel Alberta, a branch of the Alberta government has a goal to increase this number to 10 Billion by 2020.
Diversity is one of the main ways to reach this lofty goal set by the province.
“We all know oil and gas is probably not going to come back in terms of how it was so you have to have other alternatives from an economic impact perspective because you want people coming to your community,” said Barry. “Visitors are one thing but you also want it in order to work for people of your community, for future jobs, future opportunities and investments.”
Drumheller was selected because of its established world class status but also retaining its small town charm that many communities across the province are scrambling to figure out. This survey will help create programs for other communities to follow as well as benefit the town by having information to potentially attract investment.
“It’s easier to make decisions when you know what the actual numbers are and I think in Drumheller in particular there is a lot of different studies and a lot of different people coming in and sort of having different things but there hasn’t been a definitive understanding of how many people work in the tourism and hospitality industry in Drumheller.”
Barry explained that any business that deals directly with the public is in fact a tourism sector business and that education will be a key factor to this recognition.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a gas station or an A&W or whatever, you are still impacted and you are still a part of the industry,” said Barry.