Tourism Calgary tries to rein in Torontonians

Find out why Toronto is the "best opportunity" for the tourism board

Hogtown got a taste of Cowtown last week, as Tourism Calgary held a promotional campaign at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. The “Under the Hat” campaign was created to entice Torontonians to discover Calgary.

Tourism Calgary kicked off the campaign, which ran May 17 and 18, by putting a giant inflatable white cowboy hat in the harbour, where it stayed throughout the weekend. Event activities included rock climbing on a 50-foot rock wall against a virtual backdrop of the Alberta Rockies, music from Cowtown Opera Co., classic midway fare prepared by Calgary chefs Karine Moulin and Pierre Lamielle, and the opportunity to meet members of the Calgary Stampede.

As it aims to grow tourism revenues by about $2.3 billion by 2020, Tourism Calgary has been focusing its marketing efforts mostly on Alberta and Saskatchewan, said Jeff Hessel, vice-president of marketing at Tourism Calgary. But the organization knows that to reach its goal, it has to expand in other markets.

“Through research, we have identified that Toronto is probably the best opportunity for Tourism Calgary,” said Hessel. “People in Toronto are very open to the messaging of travelling to Calgary and what we have to offer. They can also see that Calgary is becoming a very different city and we have a lot more to offer than we did five or 10 years ago.”

Commenting on the giant white cowboy hat, Hessel said, “Calgary is fortunate to have an icon that is internationally recognized… It’s a symbol of our Western hospitality, so we thought the hat is the best way to start the conversation with the people of Toronto.”

The event also included representatives from Calgary Stampede, Travel Alberta, Banff Lake Louise Tourism, Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance and Heritage Park Historical Village.

Tourism Calgary promoted the event through media relations, social media, radio spots and street teams in Toronto. The campaign was developed with Venture Communications.

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