Rural Alberta needs to know, too – Editorial

Spring break is over and it’s back to school for students and back to work for lucky parents who could enjoy a few days off with their children.

With the fast rising gas prices, slowly entailed by a creeping general increase in prices of many consumer goods, it goes without saying that all families could have used some information on who offers what kind of discounts or special programs for those preparing to go on vacation before they hit the road last month.

And this goes for families living in urban and rural Alberta alike.

But it looks like Travel Alberta is not of the same opinion.

A recent research shows that Travel Alberta has been advertising all these discount packages and special offers in “daily newspapers only.”

To the extent we know, rural communities in Alberta do not have daily newspapers and subscription levels to daily newspapers are not high in rural Alberta.

In this case, the immediate question that comes to mind is whether Travel Alberta is focusing its attention on a particular market, in this case, the urban population of the province.

Once inquired, we were told that the answer was a definitive “No”, which meant that Travel Alberta would like all Albertans, urban and rural, to know about all available offers for inexpensive vacation packages.

Then the question was how rural Albertans were supposed to know the availability of such packages if they were advertised only in daily newspapers.

The answer was that all offers were posted on the Internet and whoever had Internet access could easily see the available offers on the web.

The next question was how rural residents of the province were supposed to know about the opportunities to do some research on those offers if they did not know they existed, because Internet has so much information that one could well use some guidance as to where to look for what kind of information.

And there the answer was not very clear cut.

This situation can be interpreted and/or described in many different ways. One way of interpreting this preference for urban market over rural for tourism advertising is that rural communities are being discriminated against by their own provincial government.

It is true that even in Alberta, where agriculture is one of the two main pillars of economy, the urban population is now well over 80 per cent of the total.

Travel Alberta may have concluded that, with the urban population of the province having reached that kind of dominance, they have adequately done their job in informing the population of good vacation deals, but the remaining 20 per cent are also the residents of this province and they have as much right to know.

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