Jasperites working on cultural map of Alberta
“Imagine getting off the plane in Calgary or Edmonton, getting into a rental car with a cultural touring map in hand,” says Marianne Garrah, cultural portfolio manager at DTMI. “No guessing if the theatre is on tonight while you are in the city, no guessing if that restaurant is a good one and no hoping that your bed and breakfast is close to a gallery.”
The idea of an exclusively cultural map is to help promote the arts and culture to tourists as they plan their holidays. “Alberta is known internationally for its natural beauty — what is often overlooked is the cultural tourism industry, a very lucrative sector of the Alberta economy,” Garrah says.
Not only would the map include great places to stay and dine in, but also galleries, theaters, music venues and museums.
“To keep it simple in this first year we are proposing a map of the Calgary, Edmonton, Jasper and Banff circle, with no season in particular. I’ve included two or three bed and breakfasts, music venues, galleries, theatres, museums and cafés in each location. More in the urban centers.”
DTMI will be taking this initiative to the Travel Alberta PIP (Partners in Promotion) consumer shows this spring to promote this often-overlooked sector of Alberta’s economy.
“We cannot deny the $150 million that is created in the province annually from artistic activities and events — or the 3,500 jobs. This sector of Alberta’s economy is a valid and, we believe, the only truly sustainable resource,” Garrah says.
This is something Garrah and her partner, David Baker, impressed upon Alberta’s Economic Development Minister in a meeting last month to discuss this new Alberta map. “We were rather shocked to find out out that culture is not even considered an economic indicator for Alberta. Considering that the province is taking over 100 Albertans to the Smithsonian next June, an initiative called ‘Aint Alberta Grand’, we had expected the Economic Development Ministry to be more enlightened about Alberta culture,” Garrah says. “The road — pardon the pun — just got a little longer!”
DTMI’s other meetings with tourism officials and highway associations have met with a positive response.