Wednesday, June 11

A Dragon Boat Festival approved for Banff National Park

(Originally published in TOURISM)

The first-ever Dragon Boat Festival for Banff National Park has been approved to glide the mystical waters of Lake Minnewanka on August 23 & 24, 2008. The non-motorized long-boat canoe race and festival activities are set to showcase National Park environmental stewardship through educational opportunities and an enhanced visitor experience.

A centuries-old race features four boats with teams of up to 20 paddlers in race heats of 200, 500 and 1000 metre stints. According to Andrea Thiessen, Director of Events and Special Projects, "group participants bring their competitive spirits to the lake and are required to build unity in an outdoor environment in order to successfully cross the finish line". Specialty cup races will include Breast Cancer Survivors and Emergency Medical Services. Cultural festival activities and interpretation will add excitement to the downtown core of Banff, while a "Towards Zero Waste" strategy continues to demonstrate our leadership in low-impact special events.

"Hosting cultural events in Banff National Park provides a non-traditional way of engaging Canadians and educating them about the special and unique place that is located in their backyard" says Julie Canning, President and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism. "We look forward to working collaboratively with Parks Canada, the Town of Banff, and the Alberta Dragon Boat Race Foundation on an integrated approach to running this exciting new event".

A Heritage Moment
Lake Minnewanka, originally called Devil's Lake, was renamed in 1888 because it was believed the name was too ominous for visitors. Its new name is translated from the Stoney word 'Minnee-wah-kah', which means the "Lake of the Water Spirit". In the late 1800's, the lake was home to Minnewanka Landing, a popular resort community. When the lake was dammed, the reservoir submerged Minnewanka Landing and it has now become a popular location for cold water diving.

Author: Annik LaRoche
Organization: Banff Lake Louise Tourism

American workers are vacation deprived

(Originally published in TOURISM)

For the eighth consecutive year, Americans were found to receive and use the smallest amount of vacation time among their counterparts in other countries.

Expedia recently commissioned its eighth annual Vacation Deprivation(TM) survey; despite reporting an average of 14 paid vacation days again this year (the same as 2007 and two more than in 2005), an estimated 47.5 million Americans (31 % of employed US adults) will not use all of their vacation days. Again this year, employed US adults will leave an average of three vacation days on the table, giving back more than 460 million vacation days in 2008.

Despite these statistics, Americans do see the value in vacations, with more than one-third (39 %) reporting they feel more productive and better about their job upon returning from vacation and 52 % claiming to feel rested, rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal life. Work responsibilities are one of the biggest deterrents to taking vacation, with 18 % of US adults responding that they've cancelled or postponed vacation plans because of work and 29 % admitting they have trouble coping with stress from work at some point in the vacation cycle. Additionally, nearly one quarter (24 %) report that they check work e-mail or voicemail while vacationing. That figure is up from only 16 % in 2005.

Expedia analyzed the vacation habits of employed workers in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy (and for the first time, the Netherlands and Austria). Canadians receive an average of 17 annual days, two less than 2007 but still three more than Americans. Among the European countries studied in the past, all workers receive more vacation days in 2008 than 2007. Great Britain has a two day increase over 2007, with 26 days, and Germany, Spain and France all saw increases of one day, receiving 27 days, 31 days and 37 days respectively. Employed workers in the Netherlands and Austria are awarded an average of 28 days in 2008.

When it comes to making vacation a priority, Expedia research saw a shift in attitudes toward taking time off among women and men. In 2007, men were more likely to feel guilty about taking time off from work (39 % versus 30 % of women). However, in 2008, women are more likely than men to feel guilty about taking time off from work (38 % women versus 28 % men), and men are more likely than women (16 % versus 11 %) to take a two-week vacation.

Biggest-ever tourism campaign entices western Canadians to stay in Alberta

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Travel Alberta has launched its biggest ever regional tourism marketing campaign. The $5.6 million multi-media program encourages Albertans and visitors from western Canada to "stay a little bit longer" in Alberta.

"This exciting and creative campaign showcases the many unique travel experiences Alberta has to offer around our province," said Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister Cindy Ady. "This program, made possible by the Tourism Levy, supports an important pillar of our economy that employs more than 111,000 people in every community in Alberta."

The multi-media program kicks off with a television campaign, supported by radio, seven travel and events guides distributed widely throughout the year and innovative billboards in Calgary and Edmonton. "Our goal is to increase the length of stay and subsequent expenditures of travellers from our largest markets," said Derek Coke-Kerr, Managing Director of Travel Alberta. "This is strategic marketing at its best as tourism in Alberta and Canada now faces increasing challenges of a higher Canadian dollar, higher gas prices and more competition from other destinations trying to attract Albertans to visit," he said.

Funding for tourism comes from the four per cent Tourism Levy. The levy, which replaced the five per cent Hotel Room Tax in 2005, provides Travel Alberta with a reliable, predictable and sustainable source of funding for marketing activities. Budget 2008 includes $67.2 million for tourism marketing and development, which represents an increase of almost $10 million over the previous year.

Albertans are responsible for about half of the approximately $5 billion in tourism expenditures generated annually in the province. Travel Alberta is the industry-led, market driven and research-based tourism destination marketing organization for Alberta. Travel Alberta's mandate is to implement the Strategic Tourism Marketing Plan which sets the goal to increase annual tourism expenditures in the province to $6.5 billion by 2011.

Author: Don Boynton
Organization: Travel Alberta