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Where’s Todd? At the Edge, again.

by Todd Lucier on November 23, 2014

Explorer’s Edge Best Practice Mission
Sustainable Tourism: Culinary • Cultural • Experiential • Nature

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 4.48.46 PMThis past week I was very pleased to welcome Atlantic Canada tourism allies to my Algonquin Park home, Northern Edge Algonquin in the ‘Explorer’s Edge’ region of Ontario.  The purpose of this mission was to showcase a range of tourism experiences and tourism providers that demonstrate Best Practices in culinary, cultural, experiential, and nature tourism under the umbrella of sustainable tourism.

Over the past decade I have been privileged to work with tourism industry professionals throughout Atlantic Canada, in particular as a course designer and facilitator for the Edge of the Wedge Program at GMIST where I have shared many stories of innovation and transformation from this community over the years.

I was nervous.  It is one thing to offer tourism training to tourism professionals in a classroom or conference centre.  It’s also easy to write reports or make recommendations by writing about tourism.  It’s quite another thing to offer learning experiences for my colleagues right in my own home (our nature retreat sleeps up to 30 in winter) with our partners and local businesses.  I felt quite naked – exposed.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 4.49.17 PMStories are a great way to learn, but on this mission we spent the week with my team, partners and tourism allies from the surrounding community to learn how our remote, rural community has built world class experiential tourism offerings. Centred at our solar-powered nature retreat on the edge of Algonquin Park, participants experienced first hand how our team is crafting unique and targeted visitor experiences recognized as Canadian and Ontario Signature Experiences.

From this base, we visited inspiring destinations, companies and most importantly – learned from people in the region.  Although we learned a bit about business practices we really explored concrete ways to leverage community assets – in people, experiences, and locations to build resilient communities with tourism experiences that involve multiple stakeholders.

Having never organized a Best Practice Mission, I was delighted to be able to put this one together in a way that brought focus to a variety of themes that I have come to realize embody truly sustainable tourism.   You won’t find most of these in the manuals on sustainable tourism, but over the past three and a half years since I’ve been living and working exclusively in my community I’ve found them to be the most important components of sustainable, cultural, culinary, experiential and nature tourism.

We wove together ideas/themes including:

  • Gratitude.
  • Inviting Collaboration.
  • Me to We.
  • Small.
  • Tailored.
  • Fusion.
  • Joy.
  • Care.
  • Slow.
  • Up close.
  • Inspired people.
  • Under-utilized assets.
  • Authentic.
  • local FIRST.
  • Stories.
  • Continual enhancement.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 4.49.37 PMI am very grateful to the people I work with who shared their time and expertise with us this week. From our opening session with Ojibwa artist Dan Commanda who taught us about the medicine wheel and helped us create medicine pouches, to a walk in the forest with Tom Bryson, a logger practicing sustainable forestry for more than forty years, Kara Mitchell who taught about sustainable trails and growing Shiitake mushrooms in the forest, yoga with Vicki, Bees with Boards, music with Sean Cotton and Tree Ring Records and so much more. All of it was backed up admirably by my team at the Edge including (of course) Gregor Waters who did so many things I’d have to write another post to get it all in.

My hope is that participants came away with a deep appreciation for the value of infusing experiences will local flavours at mealtime and beyond, and inspiration to leverage their own resources to build new and exciting visitor experiences with an appreciation for the importance of community collaboration.  

~ Todd Lucier


NOTO’s Bear Pit Session

by Nancy Arsenault on November 19, 2014

Surrounded by 300 tourism businesses (lots of outfitters), and industry supporters, the Nature Outdoor Tourism Organization opened the floor at their industry conference to ask ‘what’s holding you back’.  Here were the highlights of issues raised

  • We need more like minded people working together because sometimes we are our own worst enemy!
  • Government interventions – multiple departments making policy changes but not connecting with each other to determine the overall impact to the operator on the ground and the economic impact of the decisions.
  • Spending more time putting out fires in the business than managing growth
  • Ensuring industry associations support their members at the table, and at a level of detail/expertise that truly gets the operators perspective heard.
  • University and colleagues producing tourism graduates but they aren’t applying for jobs in the north
  • Parks Canada is working to establish a consultation process to work with operators who want to bring people to the parks
  • Workforce development to attract the young into our industry.

Lots to think about as we all work together and contribute to growing tourism.


Destination BC is revitalizing the Super, Natural British Columbia tourism brand

November 17, 2014

After speaking 10,000 consumers in key markets, 115 Visitor Centre representatives, 350 industry stakeholders at regional meetings, 600 stakeholders via an online survey and consultation with key industry partners, like the Canadian Tourism Commission – BC’s brand personality will be positioned as “WILD AT HEART” and the tagline  “Super, Natural British Columbia” will stay.  After 30 […]

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British Columbia joins the Explorer Quotient (EQ) Family in Canada

November 14, 2014

Tourism destinations and operators around the province of British Columbia can rejoice and join their colleagues in the Yukon, Alberta, Manitoba, and New Brunswick in aligning with the Canadian Tourism Commission’s powerful Explorer Quotient research to drive tourism into the future. Destination BC announced, as part of their roll out of the new brand strategy, that they will […]

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You gotta love the initiative!

October 17, 2014

I got a chuckle today on my groupon account when the new retail product to take a selfie is now available to purchase. Being inept at taking a good picture – perhaps this would help, maybe it’s just another item in my over crowded backpack and ‘formalizes’ something that is an impromptu act. What I […]

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David Goldstein Appointed as CEO of the CTC

October 16, 2014

Congratulations to David Goldstein as the new CEO for the Canadian Tourism Commission. The press release out today takes the suspense out of the industry wondering who will replace Michelle McKenzie who retired from her position in December 2013.  With the new Gateway to Growth 2014 document also just released, the report speaks to the value […]

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Happy Thanksgiving

October 10, 2014

It’s that time of year when we stop to be thankful for all the things in our life, our business, and our community that enriches us and brings happiness, and pleasure into our lives.   Thanks to all of you out there who follow our blog, the many who send me personal notes/questions to my email […]

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Alberta’s Experiential Travel Training with an Incentive

September 8, 2014

As part of their continued, strategic growth that began with the brand, then engaging travellers with identifying their ‘Goose Bump Moments’, and ensuring industry had access to the leading edge Explorer Quotient research from the Canadian Tourism Commission, Travel Alberta is now working in partnership to stimulate product development. In an announcement today, the VP for […]

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Must People Be So Cynical?

August 22, 2014

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!  It’s the hottest topic in the media these days and the best fundraising sensation since Terry Fox  run across Canada to raise funds for cancer (now at $650M). I watch with amazement as people from all walks of life engage with this campaign – either by taking the challenge, donating, […]

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Creating Investment in the Canadian Hotel Industry – A new report

August 19, 2014

Did you know the Gateway to Growth: Creating Investment Opportunity in the Canadian Hotel Industry (2014) from TIAC has been released? It profiles an interesting tale about how the drop in international visitation from 33% of all Canadian travel in 2000, to 19% in 2013 has had negative impacts on the hotel industry. Given Canada’s performance, the […]

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