Calgary, soon-to-be Western Canada’s largest convention destination, has been busy preparing to welcome back event planners and their attendees to a city that considers their health a top priority.
“We want to make sure [visitors] are in a safe environment when they arrive [in Calgary] and when they depart,” said Kurby Court, president and CEO of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre (CTCC), “and everywhere they are in between.”
Court’s citywide approach to safety could be Calgary’s mantra as well. It starts at Calgary International Airport, which received the Airports Council International’s Airport Health Accreditation. It assures passengers, staff, regulators, and governments that they are prioritizing health and safety in a measurable, established manner. The airport recently was chosen for a new pilot project, conducted in partnership with provincial and federal governments, that offers COVID-19 rapid testing for international travelers. Under the program, travelers have the option to get a test and self-isolate for 24 to 48 hours while they await their results. Once confirmed negative, they may leave self-isolation under conditions. This project looks to safely reduce the 14-day mandatory self-isolation period currently in effect for all international travelers.
Beyond the airport, the Alberta destination has a Face Coverings Bylaw in place that requires wearing face coverings or masks in indoor public areas and public vehicles. City venues, attractions, hotels, and transport centers are following guidelines for safety and sanitation established by local and provincial authorities, as well as their own high standards.
Event planners considering 2021 meetings in the city can be confident about the safety of their attendees at the city’s two conference centers. CTCC and the BMO Centre at Stampede Park both recently achieved the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation. GBAC STAR helps organizations establish protocols and procedures, offers expert-led training and assesses a facility’s readiness for biorisk situations. The program verifies that CTCC and the BMO Centre have implemented the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention in their facilities.
“From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked diligently to collaborate and adapt to this new environment in order to address the increased safety precautions required for live events to return,” said Greg Newton, general manager of the BMO Centre.
Court, of CTTC, added, “The fact that two venues in our city are now accredited confirms Calgary’s commitment to be a safe destination to meet in.”
CTTC had not yet earned its accreditation when it and Tourism Calgary hosted a site visit for international organization Daughters of the Nile in late summer. But the venue was able to demonstrate its own high standards for cleanliness and its innovative ideas for creating safe meetings with a health screening, sanitation stations, intimate but safely-distanced room-sets, and much more.
“People want to see each other face to face, and we’re creating a safe environment where people can do that,” said Jason Fajardo, senior sales manager at CTTC. “We’re always learning and we’re always getting better.”
Calgary’s hotels, too, have implemented a wide range of safety measures, including touchless check-in options, occupancy limits, health and safety signage, frequent cleaning schedules, providing personal protective equipment for employees, and increased guest-room disinfecting practices. Most of the city’s hotels have
committed to the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association Safe Accommodation Promise, which helps hotels understand their responsibility to provide a safe environment for guests and staff, and provides assurance to guests and staff that the hotel is a safe place to stay or work.
Calgary always has provided convention delegates with plenty of entertainment options beyond the conference with such attractions as the Calgary Zoo, Calgary Tower, Gasoline Alley, Glenbow Museum, The Hangar Flight Museum, National Music Centre Studio Bell, and TELUS Spark Science Centre. These attractions are ready to welcome visitors safely with mask requirements, physical distancing measures, and timed ticketing. Planners or their guests can purchase admission online and visit during a reserved time slot.
Must-see attractions, top-notch event venues, a walkable downtown — there are a billion reasons to meet in Calgary, and plenty of reasons to be confident you can do so in safe and sanitary environments.