With summer just around the corner, many of us are planning our next Alberta adventure. While we’re all excited to experience our beautiful province, the reality is the effects of COVID-19 continue to linger for many businesses in the tourism and hospitality industries. The experience economy is vast and encompasses business activities that contribute to the hospitality and tourism industries’ economic growth, directly or indirectly. Of course restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions are some examples of businesses that fall within this scope, but businesses that also fall within this sector include:

  • Event venues and concerts
  • Public speakers
  • Entertainment and production companies
  • Event planners and caterers
  • DJs, photographers, and videographers
  • Transportation
  • Food trucks
  • Bars
  • Confections
  • Retail
  • Arts & film
  • Event rentals
  • Bed & breakfasts
  • Pet daycares and kennels
  • Agencies
  • Temporary staffing firms
  • Branding suppliers
  • Florists
  • And many more

Even with most restrictions being lifted, there are permanent changes that these businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors need to be mindful of and adapt to accordingly. Below you’ll find our conversations with industry experts, shared insights, resources, and support that can help prepare businesses in the experience economy for summertime in Alberta.

Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA)

Mackenzie Brown, Director of Industry Development for Indigenous Tourism Alberta, shares some of her observations and programs that have helped businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

What have been the main challenges you’ve observed for businesses in the experience economy in 2022?

I think some of the main challenges include the lack of accessible funding for our members and Indigenous labor shortages. Having accessible funding where businesses can apply orally, through a story, etc. makes it easier for our communities to access funds.

Mackenzie Brown

Additionally, Indigenous tourism is growing fast, and we want to see more Indigenous youth and community members involved in the industry, both in the development, marketing, and the grounds as guides, storytellers, and in the service industry. There is a large labour shortage in tourism, and it is amplified for Indigenous representation. Creating more Indigenous-led training programs, wage subsidies, and transportation accessibility will help pave a more inclusive tourism industry.

There is also a lack of Indigenous representation in specialized tourism marketing. It is my hope that we see more specialized Indigenous tourism marketing courses and training come out so we can see more Indigenous creatives in this space.

What have been the key focus points at ITA to help businesses in the event, hospitality, and tourism industries shift and prepare for the 2022 season?

The last two years have been really hard on our members, not having a proper tourism season. ITA’s focus is on the recovery and sustainability of our membership. We are focused on spring and summer campaigns, paid media advertising, advocacy, training programs, mentorships, and more to help prepare our members for a good tourism season.

Do you have programs or services that businesses can engage with?

Indigenous Tourism Alberta has a variety of programs and workshops this upcoming year! The best way to find out when events are scheduled is by signing up for our newsletter on our website.

Pathway Program

The Pathway Program is grassroots-led and was developed with Indigenous frameworks and ways of knowing, doing, and being. The Pathway Program takes Indigenous Nations, Settlements, and Communities through owning and operating community tourism initiatives and goes through every aspect of grassroots community tourism development from being visitor-ready, infrastructure upgrades, and setting up a tourism office in your community. Intake will be launched in June/July 2022 and is open to Alberta Indigenous Communities.

Entrepreneur Workshop

This one-day in-person workshop takes participants through creating an idea and starting and owning an Indigenous Tourism business. From marketing plans to learning about the tourism industry if you have an idea or want to expand your Indigenous tourism business further, this workshop is for you. Sign up for our newsletter to know first when dates are announced! Workshops to be held in Grande Prairie, Slave Lake, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Edmonton, and Calgary.

Cultural Awareness Training

The Cultural Awareness program aims to help support the growth and understanding of local Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the mainstream tourism industry across Alberta. ITA is in support of reciprocal relationships between Indigenous partners and industry partners in all regions of Alberta. This training is a full-day, no-cost training aimed to help those working in the tourism industry broaden their understanding of Indigenous peoples, land, and Indigenous tourism. ITA’s Cultural Awareness Training takes participants through aspects of history and cultural understanding, with a focus on Indigenous tourism and responsibility in the promotion and best practices of authentic Indigenous tourism experiences.  Knowledge is catered to the specific area each training is located in. Sign up for our to know first when dates are announced! Training to be held in Red Deer, Crowsnest Pass, Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Calgary, and Fort McMurray.

ITA has many programs available for members including webinars, business coaching, information blogs and videos, marketing initiatives, asset creation, mentorships, and more. Anyone within Alberta with a majority Indigenous-owned Tourism business can be a member of ITA. In light of COVID, our membership is free until March 2023. If you’re interested in learning more about who ITA is, what they do, and how they can help, you can find their application for membership online.

Kalyn Kodiak

Indigenous Tourism Alberta: Client Testimonial

Kalyn Kodiak is a proud Métis and two-spirited person who is descended from a long lineage of healers, teachers, and artists. She found her passion in her early 20’s when she took a class on plant identification at the Wild Rose College of Natural Healing. She is now a teacher who shares her knowledge of plants, herbs, and wellness. She is a resource on traditional medicines to the Métis communities of southern Alberta, and aen aapikayahk sayncheur flayshii (Métis sash weaver). She is also a founding member and the current president of the Alberta Herbalists Association.

“Joining ITA has been one of the best choices for connecting with other Indigenous businesses and growing my business. I am very happy with the support we’ve received. Please keep up the good work, to support other new and growing Indigenous businesses!”

Kalyn Kodiak with Kodiak Herbal

Travel Alberta

Since 2020, Travel Alberta has supported businesses through funding, promotional activities, and learning opportunities. These supports helped businesses navigate and prepare for recovery now and in the future. Travel Alberta and its partners provided various means of support for operations, marketing and product development, and partnership marketing to 338 businesses.

The Travel Alberta website was created as an Industry Hub for the Alberta tourism industry partners from programs & tools to insights into visitor trends and market-specific information.

Alberta Tourism Information Service (ATIS)

Free digital marketing platform designed by Travel Alberta to help your Alberta tourism business by amplifying your marketing efforts. Add your Business Listings, Events and Offers into ATIS and your content is shared across multiple marketing channels and websites, including travelalberta.com and a growing network of publishers, websites and apps promoting Alberta as a destination of choice for visitors around the world. Getting started is easy and free. Visit the website for more information or login now.

Learning Portal

A resource connecting tourism businesses with insights, expertise, and best practices to help guide marketing and business activities.

Tourism Investment Program

Over the next three years, Travel Alberta’s investment framework will contribute over $15 million dollars annually to enhance and grow visitor products and experiences. Investing in Alberta’s visitor economy diversifies and drives economic growth, creates jobs, and supports businesses. And that’s good news for all Albertans.

Two funds are available that you can apply for now: the Cooperative Investment Fund and the Product Development Fund. Some application due dates are fast approaching on May 13, 2022.

Visitor & Market Insights

Travel Alberta is regularly compiling and monitoring information on source markets to understand when and how travelers from different markets are returning to travel. This will inform the target markets and timing for Travel Alberta’s destination promotion activities. Tourism indicators offer insight at a glance from respected research organizations and government agencies to help the tourism industry in Alberta understand how they perform, where opportunities lie, and how to adjust based on the most recent data regarding travelers, expenditures, habits, and trends. These insights hold great opportunities for anyone looking to market their tourism-based business in the province, the country, or across the globe.

Connections e-newsletter

Travel Alberta’Connections e-newsletter provides news, resources, programs, events, and opportunities related to the tourism industry in Alberta. The travel sector is constantly evolving and we are committed to delivering fresh, relevant and helpful information right to your inbox.

Business Link

Business Link helps Alberta entrepreneurs start and grow sustainable businesses. As many Albertans plan on exploring their own backyard for an adventure this summer, the Business Link team can help prepare your business with tools, resources, and one-to-one support. Here are some resources and supports for the hospitality and tourism industries that target some of the challenges they might be facing.

Business Link
Funding Support

Business Link is a great free resource to help you find applicable funding options for your business.  In addition, most funding options require a business plan.  The Interactive Business Plan Builder is a step-by-step tool that provides you with a framework to build a professional and compelling Business Plan.  We also offer a Business Plan Review service where we will provide feedback to promote funding success.  We also have access to funding databases that we can search and provide potential options.  For example, here are a couple of government supports to help with funding challenges for businesses in these industries:


Business Link can also provide resources and tools to help businesses assess and resolve staffing gaps.  Although we are not Human Resource professionals, we do have Professional Connections that you can explore to find the right Human Resource professional supports for your business.  There are also several government-funded programs to help you with hiring and training new staff:

  • Canada- Alberta Job Grant is a funding program where government and employers share the cost of training new and existing employees to increase their knowledge and skills
  • Alberta Works Workplace Training is a program that can reimburse up to 70% of training costs up to $390/week for up to 30 weeks.
  • Rupertsland Institute has training programs for businesses looking to hire 10 or more Metis individuals. Training offered can include administration, safety training, or some customized training programs to fit the business needs.

Understanding target customer changes and how to effectively market to them is critical for your business recovery and growth. Our Market Research resources and services help you better understand both market and client changes since COVID to make the right shifts in your business.  We also have marketing guides, blogs, workshops, and one-to-one supports where we can share tools and resources to help you build a robust marketing plan.

One change in customer behavior that has been reinforced through COVID is searching online for businesses.  Business Link administers the Digital Economy Program that provides businesses free support for digital marketing and helps your customers find you online.

Discover some Business Link favorite destinations in the tourism and hospitality industries!

David Bayda

One of my favorite Alberta Adventure destinations is Quarry Lake Park (Canmore, Alberta).  Quarry Lake Park is a recreational area located right in the heart of Canmore that has a beautiful lake with swimming, walking trails, and picnic tables. I love the sense of community when visiting the park, and the amazing views of the Rocky Mountains!  One of my favorite businesses to visit on this adventure is Bow Valley SUP & Surf to rent a kayak!

David Bayda, Business Strategist

A family favorite is Waterton National Park. There is so much to do in Waterton like rent a surrey bike from Pat’s Gas and Cycle Rental, hike one of the many trails, view the falls, sit by the lake, and shop in one of the many shops along Waterton Avenue. Before we head home, we stop in at Welch’s Chocolate Shop to pick up our favorite chocolate, candy goodies, and ice cream.  This summer I also hope to take in a hike offered by Heather Black, owner of Buffalo Stone Woman Indige-scape Tours. Heather offers unique hiking tours in the Kananaskis area combined with sharing of our Blackfoot Culture, and provides storytelling with books from Indigenous authors, craft-making for children, and goal setting for the adults prior to a 1–4-hour majestic hike on the trails.

—Norma Wolf Child, Indigenous Business Strategist

Norma Wolf Child
Barry Yewchuk

A favorite destination of mine is Jasper National Park for the views, hiking, and restaurants! As I enjoy great food at the end of an adventurous day, we like to visit Jasper Food Tours Inc. For adventure and to fully experience all Jasper has to offer, a couple of great local adventure businesses are Journey Bike Guides Inc and Talking Rock Tours.

Barry Yewchuk, Market Research Coordinator

My favorite Alberta Adventure destination is a tie between Kananaskis provincial park and Banff national park! I love exploring nature and I also enjoy staying active and challenging myself. Since both destinations have fantastic hiking trails and are immersed in nature, they are my favorite place to go as I can get in a workout plus a rewarding view. Whether you go with friends, family, or alone, it is always a good time. If I have time for relaxing afterward, my favorite place to go is the Kananaskis Nordic Spa!

Kolby Klassen, Specialized Services Support Officer

Kolby Klassen
Kari Morton

One of my favorite destinations or experiences was driving from Canmore, north on Highway 1 to Highway 93, and at the Saskatchewan River Crossing taking the 11 east through David Thompson Country/Clearwater County and back to Edmonton – the scenic way to get from Banff to Edmonton!  This is one of my favorite destinations or trips because you can visit Canmore, Kananaskis, Banff, and Lake Louise, and there are so many scenic spots to stop along the way. One particular highlight is coming up on the Cline River – it is a breathtaking view. In Canmore, I really enjoy Alberta’s Own Marketplace and Café Books! Alberta’s Own Marketplace has products from Alberta-based businesses, and you can get some artwork, home décor, or body products to remind you of the trip. Café Books has all the latest reads and other fun things like puzzles. You also can’t go wrong with a bagel for the road from Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.

Kari Morton, Director of Client Services

Other ways we can help

Resources for small business owners

Connect with a small business strategist

Upcoming events and webinars