City Council approved the Destination Management Plan (DMP) on Nov. 14, 2016, to guide the development, management and marketing of Lethbridge’s tourism industry over the next 10 years.
The DMP is the outcome of a 13‑month long planning process led by the Tourism Strategy Committee. The plan produced a shared vision, outcomes and action plan as well as a framework for collaboration.
The Tourism Strategy Committee has representation from City Council, Economic Development Lethbridge, Chinook Country Tourism Association, Lethbridge Lodging Association, Lethbridge Sports Council and two citizens at large. Hundreds of community members, tourism industry stakeholders and tourism industry partners shared in the creation of the DMP through online engagements, tourism conversations, interviews and workshops.
“This is a very well thought out and researched plan,” says Mayor Chris Spearman. “It unearths the potential of the tourism industry here in Lethbridge which is very exciting to see. It also clearly identifies our areas of opportunity.”
Destination Management Planning enables a destination to identify its target markets and competitive advantages. Through this process, the DMP recognizes that the size and location of Lethbridge creates a unique opportunity to focus on two primary travel motivators: sport tourism and business event hosting. The city is also blessed with a rich array of arts, culture, heritage, Indigenous and natural assets which provide opportunity to grow the leisure travel sector and extend the stay of visitors.
“The benefits of tourism go beyond just the economic impact of having people visit our city,” says Councillor Bridget Mearns Chair of the Tourism Strategy Committee. “It also helps increase community pride, preserves natural and cultural resources and creates employment opportunities.”
To move the DMP forward, council also approved the creation of a new, standalone organization, focused on the growth of tourism in Lethbridge. City administration is tasked with designing an implementation strategy for this new entity including a funding model, transition and implementation plan by April 2017.
The need for the DMP has been identified in other City planning exercises including the Recreation and Culture Master Plan which recognizes the potential of tourism in recreation and cultural assets.
It’s estimated that $734 million is spent in southern Alberta each year on tourism activities. That equates to about 9 per cent of the provincial visitor spending across Alberta.
The Province of Alberta provided $90,000 to prepare a Tourism Destination Management Plan. To get more information on this project and to view the plan visit www.lethbridge.ca/dmp.