TIAA Speech

TIAA Speech at Travel Alberta Conference, 2019

Thank you Royce, for allowing me this opportunity to share the vision of a Tourism Industry Association of Alberta.


What is TIAA?

TIAA is a big tent coalition that advocates for a whole-of-government approach to the development of Alberta’s tourism industry.  

The TIAA mission is simple:  “To unleash the potential of Alberta’s Tourism industry.”

We’ll know we’re successful in achieving that mission when the economic evidence further demonstrates how tourism is a driving force for sustainable community economic development and revitalization in every corner of our province.   

TIAA’s membership and board seat structure reflects a desire to build a collaborative and inclusive association model that leverages the collective knowledge, expertise and resources of its members to build an effective grassroots advocacy network. 

Membership sectors represented include:  Food and Beverage, Accommodation, Transportation, Attractions & Events, Travel Trade, Meetings, Conventions & Incentive Travel, Retail, Destination Marketing/Management Organizations, Retail, Indigenous Tourism, Sector Specific Industry Associations, Training & Education and the Supplier community.   

TIAA is here first and foremost to advocate for policy that supports the growth and sustainability of all facets of Alberta’s visitor economy.

Strong policy supports strong industry leadership.  And its strong industry leadership that creates a foundation for private-public sector partnerships that can focus on innovation, investment, product development and the delivery of more, world-class visitor experiences.

Tourism – perhaps more than any other industry Alberta has relied on, and will look to in the future, presents some of our best opportunities to develop renewable and sustainable business enterprises that will provide more employment opportunities for Albertans.  

The government of Alberta’s 10-Year Strategy aspires to support a government aim to double tourism receipts to $20B by 2030.  This is a hugely audacious goal given today’s economic and fiscal realities………..  

As we came to see in last week’s budget, it is not business as usual for Alberta, or Tourism.     


But just like Canadian Ski hero Beckie Scott demonstrated during her ski career, you end up in first place because you believed in your goal and were more committed to it than your competitor.  You get there because you had the best strategy; the best plan of execution; the discipline to see your whole goal through.  It’s an imperative we abide by every day in the businesses we run. It’s this discipline that must guide the development of our provincial tourism industry.   

Small Business Week was a reminder of the enduring contributions that small-to-medium-sized businesses make to Alberta; small business represents the vast majority of businesses in our province and that means that most of you here today are the  reason why the Alberta economy, and our tourism industry, work! So, thank you for all your hard and dedicated work!


What is TIAA Focused on?

TIAA’s organizational efforts will all stem from a focus on three principal themes, which we refer to as our “Tourism Industry DNA” 

• Capacity 
• Access
• Product  


TIAA supports a whole-of-government approach to the development of the province’s visitor economy, beginning with the efforts to quantify the cumulative impact of taxes, fees and regulations on private sector efforts to develop new tourism products and jobs.  Issues to be explored by the association include, but are not limited to: labour supply, access to capital, state of public infrastructure assets, current tourism industry data and metrics, and, predictable and sustainable funding to promote Alberta’s tourism industry.



The UN World Trade Organization recently reported international tourism arrivals reached 1.4B in 2018 two-years earlier than forecast.  Canada continues to struggle to grow its share of the market and find its way back onto the UNWTO’s top ten list of countries that lead the world in tourism arrivals.  To achieve this objective will require a coordinated provincial-federal response on key policy issues such as increased air access, air capacity and air competitiveness, visas (processing times, improved administrative processes), and, access to foreign labour pools that can assist the industry in better responding to market demand.



This is where the rubber hits the road.  Alberta has unprecedented potential to grow the number of businesses that deliver unique and memorable visitor experiences, while also significantly contributing to the economic and employment base of their communities.  By leveraging Alberta’s tourism industry leadership, world-class assets and investment know-how, the province will be well-positioned to construct new, value-added tourism products and experiences within established regional economic corridors to help expand the industry’s contributions to the provincial economy.   


Wrap Up 

We are an industry full of passionate, committed and enthusiastic entrepreneurs that wear the title of tourism operator with pride.  

It is our time to demonstrate the full leadership potential of this industry.  

It is our time to make the voice of tourism heard in every community of Alberta.  

And, it is my honour to invite you to be a part of this journey with TIAA to help drive the province’s real “Alberta Advantage” - TOURISM   


Call to Action 

I would like to introduce my TIAA board colleagues who are all in attendance today and would be pleased to answer any questions. 

Bob Sartor, President and CEO of the Calgary Airport Authority

Representing the Transportation 

Jace Anderson, Executive Director of Medicine Hat Tourism

Representing Destination Marketing and Destination Management Organizations

Dan DeSantis General Manager, Delta Hotel Calgary Airport In-Terminal and Calgary Airport Marriott In Terminal Hotel

Representing the Accommodation 

Robin Locke, Vice President Strategy & Corporate Development

Lake Louise Ski Resort

Representing attractions and events 

And, myself Alida Visbach, President & CEO – Heritage Park Historical Village

Also representing attractions and events  

Although our sixth member of the founding board had to step back at the last minute for business reasons, I would be remiss not to mention Patrick Saurette, of the Marc Restaurant Group in Edmonton.  As Chair of Restaurants Canada and an Edmonton sector representative, Patrick’s perspective on issues facing food and beverage operators was instructional to the formation of TIAA.  

While time does not permit here, I would encourage anyone that has questions, or concerns, about how TIAA will ensure there is proper sectoral and regional representation to come speak with me, or another member of the board. 

Lastly, I encourage you to visit the TIAA website, which will provide more information about the association and its goals.  You can expect to see a lot more information in the coming months.  

So, I ask for your tourism business to support TIAA in its efforts going forward.

Thank you for your time, and attention.