Edmonton's K-Days to get $10M from federal government

The federal government is providing $17.5 million for tourism projects in the province, including $10 million for Edmonton's K-Days fair.

Minister of Tourism and Edmonton-Centre MP Randy Boissonault made the announcement at a press conference in Edmonton Tuesday.

"To ensure K-Days remains a key part of what makes Edmonton special and continues to drive this city's economy forward well into the future," said Boissonault.

The funding for K-Days comes from the Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative and the Tourism Relief Fund administered by PrairiesCan (Prairies Economic Development Canada), a department that diversifies the economy across the Canadian prairies.

The money will go toward site improvements, operational costs and turning Klondike Park into a year-round destination. It will also include expanding programming to be more inclusive to Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, Francophones and LGBTQ2S+ communities.

"We are examining everything at the fair, and over the next few years, you will see the fair evolve to better align to our community needs," said Arlindo Gomes, from Explore Edmonton.

In addition to the $10 million for K-Days, $7.5 million is going to 29 tourism projects to help attract more visitors to Alberta. That funding comes from the Tourism Relief Fund and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

"These investments will help tourism operators in Alberta launch new experiences and develop long term strategic plans that will help grow the visitor economy," said Boissonault.

Included in the dollar amount is $1.8 million for Indigneous Tourism Alberta to help operators develop authentic Indigenous cultural experiences in the province.

"Indigenous tourism offers amazing opportunities for travellers to connect with Indigenous peoples at a time when reconciliation is at the top of Canadians' minds," said Shae Bird, CEO of Indigenous Tourism Alberta.

"This investment will help Indigenous Tourism Alberta continue to support the rapid growth of the sector into a major component of Alberta's visitor economy, and support hundreds of Indigenous entrepreneurs reach their business and social goals."

Other funding includes $600,000 to the Francophone Economic Development Agency of Alberta for 20 bilingual tourism routes.

The Downtown Business Association will receive $300,000 for a pop-up Spark event to promote the downtown core of Edmonton.

The federal funding comes as tourism is picking up in Alberta, part of it is needed to help attract staff back to the industry.

"It could be up to 10 years to totally rebuild our tourism labour force. No sector was more decimated than tourism as a result of COVID-19," said Darren Reeder from the Tourism Association of Alberta.

The investment is expected to help create or maintain over 4,000 tourism jobs in Alberta and attract more than 2.1 million domestic and international visitors.

K-Days is now hiring, and organizers believe showcasing Edmonton businesses at the festival will help expedite economic recovery.

"By creating more opportunities for local businesses, local artists and performers, and create fundraising opportunities for community non-profits," said Gomes.

K-Days runs from July 22-31, the first time the fair has happened in three years.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson.