Premier Jason Kenney and Economic Development and Tourism minister Tanya Fir participated in roundtable discussions on issues facing the tourism and hospitality industry while visiting the Banff-Kananaski constituency on July 4.

MLA Miranda Rosin says Banff and Canmore stakeholders provided insight into the challenges currently being faced but also viewed the future with optimism.

"There's was a lot of great feedback. A lot of constructed dialogue from that roundtable for all of us."

"Now that the economy is reopening and now that public health restrictions are being eased, and businesses are starting to see customers back, I think we heard a lot of optimism on Saturday."

Yet she says it's not all rosy. The slow return of visitors likely means summer targets will be missed and there was discussion around the fall and winter season. Plus, the closures of borders to travellers is a major hurdle.

"At our tourism and hospitality roundtable, undoubtedly there were some difficult conversations that were had because the industry has been hit so hard."

"There was a lot of constructive feedback from the tourism and hospitality industries to help us guide and pave the way to relaunch those industries when time permits and the borders reopen."

MLA Rosin says there are programs in place for small, medium, and larger companies that will help, plus Alberta now offers the lowest corporate tax in Canada. Yet she acknowledges the industry has been hit disproportionately hard.

"This industry is seeing prolonged devastation, whereas a lot of other industries are free to reopen and they're seeing business and consumer come back. With the prolonged border closures to our south and internationally and even interprovincially, this industry is really still feeling the hurt from the last few months, and it's going to be more important now than ever to help them through this."

Rosin says the industry is anxious for the release of Alberta's new 10-year tourism plan in the coming months. Its release was delayed to take into consideration the impact of COVID-19.

During the visit, Kenney also dropped by local businesses to provide support, chat with people on Banff Ave. before spending the evening in Bragg Creek.

MLA Rosin is also chair of a tourism recovery task force involving tourism stakeholders from across the province.