This past September, TTRA Canada hosted its 21st annual conference in Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, which provided an ideal backdrop to this year’s conference theme Animating Places: Making destinations come alive through research.
The 89 attendees to the conference, coming from across Canada and beyond, were treated to a comprehensive and thought provoking program. The program began with a pre-conference interactive workshop given by Dr. Moniek Hover and Licia Calvi on enhancing visitor experiences through storytelling. Learnings from the workshop helped frame the afternoon’s case study consisting of a walking discovery tour of Edmonton’s revitalized downtown core. The city, rebranded has Edmonton Original: Going Way Back, made considerable investments in recent years to modernized its infrastructure and to reinvent and revitalize its environmental and cultural essence in a way that both resonates with Edmontonians and captures the imagination of visitors, including the National Geographic.
The welcome reception was held in tandem with the student poster session, which displayed the rich array of tourism research being conducted across Canadian universities. The two-day conference started with data analytics taking center stage with the opening keynote by Jon Bromstein of Google Canada. Mr. Bromstein challenged us to consider the depth of insights possible made possible by new digital data sources and to explore these data source with clear questions in mind. While several presentations on the first of the conference revolved around technology, data visualization and communication, the second day of the conference contained a good dose of storytelling starting with Moniek Hover’s keynote address.
TTRA Canada also held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and awards on the first day of the conference. We had the great pleasure to introduce and welcome the president of TTRA International, Ms. Susan Bruinzeel, who provided an update on the strategic rebranding underway and preparations toward the 2017 TTRA International Conference in Québec City. Three awards were presented during the AGM;
- Émilie Bourdages from UQAM School of Management in Montréal was awarded the DMAC Graduate Researcher Award for her work on the attributes fostering international collaboration in tourism.
- Anna Sabrina Ahmad Sopian from the University of Guelph in Ontario was presented with the Gordon Taylor Future Researchers Undergraduate Award for her research on volunteer tourism in the context of achieving sustainable tourism objectives.
- Finally, Brent and Rosemary Ritchie were on hand to present the R. Brent and Rosemary E. Ritchie Lifetime Contribution Award. Introduced in 2012, this award is the highest honor given by TTRA Canada to acknowledge the long-term contributions and outstanding services from an individual to TTRA Canada and Canada’s tourism sector. Past recipients include Judy Rogers (2012) and Kent Stewart (2014). This year’s recipient was Mr. Scott Meis, the announcement of which prompted an emotional two-minute standing ovation. Among his many contributions, Mr. Meis’ leadership and vision contributed to the development and implementation of the Tourism Satellite Account framework and the UNWTO Committee on Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account.
The conference also provided plenty of opportunities to network and socialize. This year’s banquet was sponsored by Tourism Nova Scotia, during which Halifax was introduced as the location of the 2018 TTRA Canada conference. In true TTRA Canada fashion, the banquet give rise to camaraderie and a lot of dancing, some of it involving a big red lobster as a dancing companion! We should not be surprised to see this red lobster making an appearance next June at Québec City TTRA International Conference.
Going forward into 2017, TTRA Canada is collaborating with TTRA International to make next year’s international conference in Québec City a very special and memorable event. We look forward to welcoming in Québec City delegates and their guest from around the world!