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Schow developing bidding policy and labour stream

Posted on March 21, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance

By Cal Braid
Vauxhall Advance
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Alberta’s Minister of Tourism and Sport, Joseph Schow, has been mandated by Premier Danielle Smith to grow the tourism economy and expand the labour pool that will allow it to thrive. He’s also in charge of selectively funding new recreational facilities and developing an international games bidding policy. The games bidding, if successful, can be a huge economic boon to the province. 

“Our overall policy is to ensure that we go after major sporting events that offer the highest benefit to Albertans and keep taxpayer dollars at top of mind,” Schow said. While the expense of building and maintaining world-class sporting facilities and accommodations is high, it brings huge monetary returns as the province retains its prestigious reputation on the world stage.

“At the moment, international games are weighed on a case-by-case basis, but as we develop an international games bidding process we will be in a position to have a more structured formula for that,” the minister said. “At the moment we don’t have that established yet. If you look at something like the World Juniors that we just announced a couple of weeks ago where we’re investing $11 million, we expect to see a direct impact of $55 million in return for that. These games are a great opportunity for us to bring top-calibre athletes into the province while also filling hotel rooms and showing off the best the province has to offer.”

“We have so many world-class facilities in Alberta that it’s the obvious place to host these games,” he said.

Schow is also expected to work with the Minister of Immigration to attract workers to the tourism and sporting industries. It seems like an easy sell for an industry that offers social and recreational perks for young people. He said, “It’s certainly an attractive industry to work in, but there’s a labour shortage across the board in Alberta. As the tourism sector continues to grow, so does the demand for labour. So that’s why you see that we launched the tourism and hospitality immigration stream. We’re also looking at working with post-secondary institutions to develop streams there where we can educate and place more students going into the tourism sector and position them for long careers in that sector.

“It’s a great industry to be in, so we’re going to continue to feed that industry with workers but it certainly takes some effort on all parts; whether it’s us, post-secondary, immigration or otherwise,” said Schow.

When asked if his role is mostly money management and fiscal responsibility with the ministry’s budget, he answered, “A lot of my job is consulting the industry and where it’s going and how the government can support it. We recently released our tourism strategy, which was an industry-consulted, market-driven approach to growing the tourism sector. So, it’s listening to the experts in the industry to better understand what they need and what the demand is for the industry. That’s things like new product, addressing labour shortages, and making sure there’s collaboration with government going forward. It’s a multifaceted approach. In terms of how money is spent in the tourism sector, Travel Alberta makes a lot of those decisions with their business plan that I sign off on. There are lots of us involved.”

He seemed pleased to comment on the 2024 provincial budget and how it positions the ministry for growth. “I think the budget sets us up for tremendous success. Within the industry we’re seeing a nearly $8 million increase for Travel Alberta and for our new tourism strategy that expands their access and helps us develop year-round experiences across the province. We’re also bringing in major sporting events like the 2027 World Juniors and the Canadian Finals Rodeo, so from my perspective, I think it’s a huge advantage. Budget 2024 also ensures that sports and recreation activities remain affordable with our Every Kid Can Play grant which is $8 million, so I’m quite happy.”

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