Picture this: The year is 2031. Strathcona County is known as a place where visitors come to enjoy compelling nature-based offerings, authentic agritourism activities and immersive cultural experiences, along with other opportunities like sports tourism and festivals and events.
That is the vision, as outlined in the county’s Tourism Strategy and Implementation Plan. To turn vision into reality, the county is seeking input from local businesses and organizations to inform a tourism product development plan.
Anyone offering activities, products, concepts or experiences that attract visitors are invited to join one of three virtual workshops to generate ideas and help spur tourism product development. Each workshop covers one of the following tourism sectors: nature-based/adventure tourism; cultural tourism; and culinary/agritourism. Even if you are in the concept stage of an idea that would attract visitors, we want to hear from you!
The virtual workshops, held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Nov. 16, 17 and 18, will focus on topics identified as having high potential for Strathcona County. Participants are invited to select the workshop that aligns best with their business or concept and share their thoughts on that area.
The nature-based workshop on Nov. 16 is targeted towards businesses or organizations that offer excursions to wilderness areas. This sector also includes adventure tourism, with activities that may carry an element of risk for participants such as trail biking, skiing and snowboarding or horseback riding. Examples of nature-based tourism within Strathcona County could include hiking, birdwatching or experiencing the northern lights.
Visitors who travel to a specific destination to learn about a particular culture are taking part in cultural tourism. These groups and individuals are likely to visit local museums and art galleries, or participate in cultural activities such as attending Indigenous events or heritage sites. The cultural tourism workshop takes place on Nov. 17.
Agritourism is defined as any activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. Examples include taking a butter or cheese-making class, touring an estate winery, or visiting a pumpkin patch or corn maze. Many people enjoy pursuing unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences that are part of culinary tourism—visiting an area to sample the local cuisine where food and beverage are the star attraction. If this sounds like your business or organization, be sure to sign up for the culinary/agritourism workshop on Nov.18.
For more information and to register for the virtual workshops, visit strathcona.ca/tourismstrategy. If you are unable to attend on these dates, you can still share your ideas on tourism product development by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 18.
Your input will inform a tourism product development plan, which will outline individual and collaborative tourism development opportunities for the county, as well as for the private sector and other stakeholder groups. This plan will help to identify needs within the marketplace and create a roadmap for developing highly engaging tourism experiences to attract visitors to our region.
The workshops, facilitated by Expedition Management, will begin with a short presentation followed by discussion to collect input and ideas on the direction of tourism within Strathcona County.
Tourism does not only benefit the visitors. It can enhance quality of life by creating a sense of place and attracting talent for local employers. The sector also helps support the retail community and cultivate economic diversification. While six key areas were identified as having high potential for our community, only four are currently being focused on. Sports tourism, festivals and events tourism are much larger sectors and will require their own plan, to be addressed in future planning.
For more information about the tourism workshops and Strathcona County’s Tourism Strategy and Implementation Plan, contact Economic Diversification and Tourism at 780-464-8095 or email email@example.com.
This column was provided by Strathcona County staff.