How Banff & Lake Louise Tourism Is Serving its Community

By Chelsea Welter

Leslie Bruce, President & CEO of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism Bureau joined Destinations International on Thursday on a webinar for Canadian CEOs focused on COVID-19 response and next steps.  She provided practical but also uplifting solutions to challenges that many of our colleagues are currently experiencing amidst this global disruption.

If there was one take away from Leslie’s message, it was that with “awe-inspiring moments are now on hold”, there is no more important time to define the destination organization as an anchor in the community and a servant to the residents in this time of need. 

In light of the rapid changes in the industry and the unpredictable nature of the crisis, Leslie is focused on short-term objectives, creating daily and weekly objectives for herself and her much-reduced team.

She has worked proactively with the media to protect the reputation of the destination.  Leslie’s overarching message is: “let’s ensure we have a viable destination to rebuild tourism when the time is right. To help her members navigate inevitable layoffs and furloughs in frontline staff, she has brought in HR consultants to help with the layoffs.

The Banff & Lake Louise Tourism Bureau is supporting their community as best they can. When access to workforce housing on the mountain became impossible, her organization led the effort to find temporary housing for 180 seasonal employees who were displaced.  

They are ensuring that communications are their core resource and have reoriented to connect municipalities with the industry to guarantee members have access to these resources- essentially making the destination organization the resource hub of the community.  Leslie and her team are a part of the Emergency Coordination Centre and connect daily with other stakeholders in the destination.  They are working with the hospital, social services, fire department and other first responders to ensure the essential needs of businesses being protected during the mandatory closures, for example arranging additional security to protect businesses that have shuttered in town.

Finally, Leslie emphasizes that the destination organization needs to be a catalyst for hope, good deeds and community optimism. The Banff area community is supporting and helping each other during the time, and Leslie and her team are on the front lines.  Her organization publishes good news from the destination daily, for example showcasing a local distillery producing hand sanitizer and then donating it back to the community; and a decision by the community to put their Christmas lights back up at home, showing some holiday spirit and magic.  Leslie and her team are taking these stories and sharing them daily, flooding their social media platforms with heartwarming support that can be represented in a destination across the globe.

Listen to Leslie’s full presentation on Thursday’s webinar here.

About the Author

Chelsea Dunlop Welter headshot
Chelsea Dunlop Welter
Senior Director of Board Governance
Destinations International Foundation
Chelsea manages both the Association and Foundation boards and committee activities. She also helps oversee the Advocacy Rapid Response Program by coordinating with the Advocacy & Research team and supporting the team in project management needs.

Chelsea is a graduate of Michigan State University (BA) and Florida State University (MA) with a major in History and American Dance Studies respectively.