On May 7th, Fort Edmonton Management Company (FEMCo) President & CEO Darren Dalgleish represented Alberta’s iconic tourism industry at the House of Commons Committee Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Darren spoke to the uniformed challenges faced by those in the industry across Canada, drawing on his unique experience in the cultural tourism sectors in both Alberta and Ontario.
View the presentation here.
“Cultural tourism organizations like museums have been fighting a steady decline in visitation over the years. Declining interest, the state of the economy, and reduced government funding for cultural institutions have all of us on the edge of sustainability,” said Dalgleish.
Darren discussed the effects of the current health crisis on tourism and cultural organizations in the country but also highlighted the strain the industry faced before COVID-19. He reminded us that the hospitality and experience industries depend not only on visitation but also on the state of the economy. The lack of government funding for cultural tourism attractions has severely put strains on the industry.
As the organization that manages Fort Edmonton Park, one of the largest cultural tourism attractions in Canada, FEMCo is focused on expanding core products & programming, sustainability and helping preserve social values that are integral to the organization. “The disruption of travel has impeded our industry and this issue will continue to affect us well beyond the pandemic because altered consumer behaviours are likely to linger, says Dalgleish.
Darren spoke from his experience in Ontario when the SARS pandemic tore through the tourism industry in Toronto and the collaborative spirit that evolved from disaster. “Prior to SARS, the concept of competitors collaborating in hospitality, tourism, theatre and culture organizations was unheard of. But the industry came together to creatively revive the industry but working together to attract people to their city,” states Dalgleish. He points out that we can learn from this point in tourism history in Canada and focus on a harmonious response in the coming months.
FEMCo will redefine and innovate our product and service offerings to address the new social and economic environment. “We need to take care of employees, take care of the guests that come, and take care of the bottom line. If any of these three legs fail, sustainability is dissolved. The government programs that exist to respond to this crisis in our sector are a great start to position organizations to hit the ground running when we emerge from this crisis.”