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Economic recovery top priority for BLLT

Having stemmed the recession so far, looking to the future and being more competitive as global economies recover are top priorities for Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

Having stemmed the recession so far, looking to the future and being more competitive as global economies recover are top priorities for Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

That was the message BLLT president and CEO Julie Canning delivered last week at the organization’s annual general meeting.

Canning said as recovery moves forward and travellers again seek out destinations, Banff National Park is in a good position as a result of the hard work during the recession.

“We don’t accept recession as an excuse, instead we have used this time to capitalize on our market position,” she said. “Our marketing, media brand and communication efforts have been relentless.

“Through 2010 we have constantly reinvented our marketing to ensure we are relevant, engaging and on the bucket list of travellers from around the world.”

The year included the Winter Olympics, the 125th anniversary of Banff National Park, the 2010 mountain travel symposium, approved destination status for Canada in the Chinese market and the Travelocity cabin fever campaign.

It also saw $102 million in earned or achieved media coverage for the destination, up 49 per cent from 2009.

“It is a noisy and very competitive world out there and we continue to work hard to engage the hearts and minds of travellers,” Canning said. “Destination marketing is an art with some science and everyone has a perspective and oftentimes very few of them are the same.”

Social media efforts continued to pay off, with BLLT being the number one destination marketing organization on Twitter with Klout Score five times higher than that of Jay Leno and the eighth all time rank of its YouTube channel for travel in Canada.

“This year our team tested images, tag lines and promotional campaigns in many of our key markets here in Canada and around the world,” Canning said. “I am pleased to share with you our brand, the world’s finest national park, tested extremely well in our core and emerging markets.”

Vice-chair of the tourism board Francisco Gomez said to be successful in tough economic times requires teamwork.

“I am really proud to be part of the board of Banff Lake Louise Tourism because we have a board that is not only committed, but involved,” Gomez said. “It is because of those involved and that commitment we have been successful.”

The business plan for 2011 was also provided, which Gomez said incorporated hundreds of hours of member consultation.

Efforts for the year include a new Destination Competitiveness Initiative to look for the next out of the box big idea that will see the destination evolve.

The meeting also saw some board changes. Jonathon Welsh, Gord Lozeman and Doug Otto finished terms while Ken McMurdo, Jason Kucey, Daymon Miller and Sean O’Farrell join the board.

Greg Manktelow, with auditors Manktelow and Company, presented the financial statements.

He said revenues for BLLT reached $5.2 million in 2010, while expenses increased by approximately $500,000 to $5 million, compared to $4.5 million the year before.

That means the organization has an operating surplus of approximately $200,000 that was moved to a reserve contingency account.

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