#1 2020-08-18 00:57:20

Registered: 2020-08-17
Posts: 39

For an Australian visitor to find her way to Jasper

COVID-19 is highlighting where Jasper’s economy is most vulnerable.     While Jasperites can thank their rubber tire visitors for propping up summer revenues, local tourism experts are warning that not only are we overly- dependent on international guests, but that most overseas visitors to Jasper get here by way of a complex tourism “ecosystem,” the interconnected systems of which are susceptible to factors that are, for the most part.

Beyond our control.     Red Plates to the Rescue Tourism Jasper’s CEO and President

James Jackson, has never been so thankful for the red license plates of Alberta.     Albertans are visiting Jasper this summer and propping up a COVID-compromised economy.

// Bob Covey    “They’re keeping this community running right now,” he says.     In March

Jackson’s worst-case revenue forecasts had Jasper’s losses somewhere in the 80 per cent neighbourhood.
While it’s too early to get hard data on how the summer has gone so far for local operators, Jackson said anecdotal evidence he’s heard suggests Jasper businesses are doing far better than first anticipated.     “Certain restaurants and hotels are faring better than they thought both in terms of occupancy and average cheque,” he said.     What’s interesting, he said, is that there seems to be a wide discrepancy of the spending and social habits of our regional guests.     “Everything is living at either end of the spectrum,” he suggested.
“There are higher-yield guests who are understanding of the situation and there is a very price- sensitive.

Challenging market as well.”     Furthermore

looking ahead to the fall is problematic when Alberta can’t say if schools will reopen.
Added to the uncertainty is the idea that government wage subsidy programs will likely expire at that time.     Venture AgainWhen COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic, Tourism Jasper’s business plan went “totally out the window.”     “Suffice to say we went back to the drawing board,” Jackson said.     Now, while Tourism Jasper asks regional visitors to “Venture Again,” and marketers attempt to flip the script on some of Jasper’s unique features (i.e.
what better place to vacation during a pandemic than a small, isolated community in a huge park?), the destination marketing organization is simultaneously looking down the pipe to how and when international travel might rebound.     Tourism Jasper is putting out the message to domestic travellers that Jasper National Park’s wide open spaces are a perfect place to social distance.
// Bob Covey    The inputs being analyzed include the big numbers (the global GDP contraction, for example), the historical trends (how Americans tend not to Venture Beyond during an election year, for example) and the real- time travel industry activities (such as what airlines and passenger rail companies are doing to brace customer confidence).     “The challenge is understanding all these things and distilling them into a strategy,” Jackson said.     The most conspicuous challenge right now, of course, is that international guests and their four-to-one spending habits (versus domestic travellers’ dollars) aren’t here.
This is a problem in 2020, to be sure, but the bigger quandary is realizing just how much we depend on these folks, Jackson says.     “The biggest thing we have to get our heads around as a DMO is institutionalizing agility into our model,” he said.
“We’ll have to do more planning, have more diversification and be less reliant on our international guests.”     What A Tangled Web We’ve Wove In a normal year, a large part of the work Tourism Jasper staff puts into marketing overseas doesn’t come to fruition for more than a year.
For an Australian visitor to find her way to Jasper, for example, she’ll typically be using up to four intermediaries.

The guest’s money gets laid down at an Australian travel agency

which then works with an international tour operator, who then purchases inventory from a Canadian- based receptive tour operator, who then buys blocks of rooms or experiences.     Jasper’s complex tourism “ecosystem”  has prospered in recent years, but a worldwide pandemic has shown it is vulnerable to the volatility of the global economy.
// Bob Covey      “You can see the dominoes that are starting to line up,” Jackson said.     Moreover.

The further away from Jasper the visitor starts

the more interconnected everything becomes.
As any Jasper server who’s listened to their guest go on about their extended travel itinerary knows, most far-flung visitors will have come via Calgary and Lake Louise and are often on their way to Vancouver and Whistler— and maybe even a cruise to Alaska.     “There’s a large ecosystem at play,” Jackson said.     While Jasper waits for parts of that ecosystem to recover—the armies of travel agents that have been laid off, or the airlines who are trying to demonstrate above-and-beyond health and safety measures, for example— Jackson said DMOs like Jasper are looking for secondary domestic markets.     Soon, travel agencies in places like Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Hamilton will start to compel their customers to see Spirit Island, Athabasca Falls and Maligne Canyon.
After all, as the DMO, .

Tourism Jasper has to now Venture Beyond.         Bob Covey // [email protected]



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