EDMONTON -- The global pandemic has taken its toll on Alberta's tourism industry. Now, ahead of World Tourism Day, Travel Alberta is shining a spotlight on the province's visitor economy.

The destination promotion organization, run by the Government of Alberta, says tourism industry revenue in the province is expected to fall by 63 per cent from pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2020.

According to Statistics Canada and the Government of Alberta, the sector earned $8.9 billion in revenue in the province in 2017.

Travel Alberta officials say they expect traveller spending to reach just $3.5 billion by the end of this year.

"The pandemic is the travel sector's worst crisis of the modern era,” Travel Alberta acting CEO, Chris Heseltine. said in a news release.

“In trademark fashion, Alberta tourism organizations and businesses are meeting the challenge head-on, with resilience and resolve," Heseltine added.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism sector provided nearly 73,000 jobs and supported 22,000 businesses in the province, according to Travel Alberta.

The organization estimates 30,000 jobs will be lost because of the pandemic.

As bleak as those numbers may seem, Travel Alberta’s vice president of destination development, Shelley Grollmuss told CTV News Edmonton she remains optimistic the industry will recover in the long term.

“We know it’s going to take some time,” she said, “which is why it is so critically important that Albertans do support their local businesses this year and local tourism operators and attractions throughout the province.”

“We are really relying on them right now to help our businesses get through this time,” Grollmuss added.

Commemorated every Sep. 27, World Tourism Day is meant to foster awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.

The theme for the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s World Tourism Day 2020 is “Tourism and Rural Development.”