Travel Alberta's new CEO aims to reinvigorate struggling industry

·2 min read

Stepping into the role of CEO of Travel Alberta this month, David Goldstein knows he faces a challenge.

"It's tough out there, and the key piece is restoring reasonable confidence among the travelling public that it's time to get on the move," he said Thursday on the Calgary Eyeopener.

The pandemic has wounded the travel industry. According to a report from Travel Alberta, published in August, traveller spending was projected to drop by 63 per cent from last year to $3.5 billion.

Projections in July by the Tourism Industry of Alberta Association anticipated up to 70 per cent of Alberta tourism businesses could close by 2021 without help.

Goldstein acknowledges the struggles ahead but remains optimistic.

Travel Alberta
Travel Alberta

"We have to be very mindful of what the current situation is … but we have to create and implement a short-, medium- and long-term plan to recover the visitor economy."

According to statistics provided by the association, Alberta's tourism industry represents more than 23,000 businesses, generating approximately 72,500 full-time equivalent jobs.

Goldstein says Travel Alberta must work "in lock step" with these entrepreneurs and businesses in the province "to make sure that we rebuild properly."

"I think the local recovery piece will be an important part of building capacity going forward," he said.

After a busy summer in Alberta's parks and campgrounds, Goldstein says local tourism will continue to be important to foster.

"I think some of it starts with sort of good old-fashioned public advocacy and letting people know what's just around the corner and what's available in some of those experiences," he said.

Goldstein says one of the reasons he took the job was the provincial government's prioritization of the travel industry.

"I was assured that the government in Alberta has a very bold plan going forward that will ensure that the visitor economy is an important part of not just the current recovery from COVID, but an important part of the diversification of the economy," he said.

I think the local recovery piece will be an important part of building capacity going forward. - David Goldstein, CEO Travel Alberta

Goldstein, formerly president and CEO of Destination Canada, is familiar with the national struggles the tourism industry is facing.

He thinks that rebuilding consumer trust in tourism begins locally and regionally and then that trust grows domestically.

Until he officially assumes the role Nov. 16, Goldstein says he won't share any immediate short-term goals for the role.

He did share that a campaign from Travel Alberta will be released shortly designed to "entice Albertans and perhaps other Canadians to come enjoy Alberta this winter."

With files from Joel Dryden and the Calgary Eyeopener.