Tourism Resilience in the Wake of Disaster – VE Bulletin Nov/Dec 2019

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“When written in the Chinese language, crisis is spelled utilising two characters – one representing threat, the other, opportunity. “

Within every crisis lies opportunity; opportunity for reflection, lessons, and growth.

Titled Tourism Resiliency in the Wake of Disaster, the latest issue of PATA’s VE Bulletin features the inspiring case study of a key tourist attraction in the city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, revealing the story of how it has survived and thrived after facing imminent threat of closure due to the devastating impact of heavy floods in 2013.

The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede is an annual exhibition and rodeo event that has been running for more than 100 years, never missing a show, despite two world wars and the Great Depression.

In June 2013, floods occurred as a result of heavy rainfall, combined with mountain snowpack melting. For the first time in more than 100 years, the Calgary Stampede, held annually during the first half of July, faced the harsh reality that “the show may not go on”. 

June 22 2013: Flooded city streets from once in a life time flood in Calgary, Alberta

The economic impact of the 2013 floods to the city of Calgary was devastating. The Institute for Business and Home Safety estimates that, of businesses affected by natural disaster, 25% never re-open, while The Strategic Research Institute found it to be 43% that fail to re-open. Of those that do, 29% fail within two years.

Today, the Calgary Stampede Parade attracts more than 300,000 into the City’s downtown core to watch it’s more than 110 entries, including more than 200 horses and 4,000 people, parade over the 4.8 km route (CBC, 2019).

Download the VE Bulletin Nov/Dec 2019 to learn how the Calgary Stampede engaged their core community and created a four-word marketing campaign that saved the event, allowing the show to indeed, go on.

This report is authored by Benjamin A. Morgan, Principal at Centre for Crisis and Risk Communications. Ben played critical communication leadership roles during Canada’s two largest and costliest natural disasters: 2013 Calgary Flood & 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires. Acknowledgement for his contributions were received from both Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. These two unprecedented events have afforded Benjamin unique communication experience and perspective in responding to disaster events and engaging with multiple stakeholder groups and levels of government.