What happens when a nation has a dream and takes collective action? They get stuff done! In 1999 the Canadian Tourism Commission struck a task-force on Learning and Enrichment Travel. They brought together industry and government to examine “How we could raise the base level of tourism in Canada”. Twelve years later we are doing it – complete with a refreshed brand for the Canadian Tourism Commission based on experiences. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics were testimonial to how far we have come as a nation in portraying the richness, diversity and incredible ways to enjoy Canada!
This week, Tourism Nova Scotia released their new Experiential Tool Kit for operators! It’s hot off the press and free! Check it out, it has great information and worksheets to help you out! This comes on the heels of a best practices mission to Manitoba where they witnessed how experiential travel can work — an opportunity that will be afforded to delegates attending Rendezvous Canada this year!
Other recent significant milestones and resources (just to name a few as there are so many now) include:
2010 – Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation invested in a customized experiential travel training program in Cypress Hills for their Parks staff and local community members as they look to anchoring experiences into their tourism strategy moving forward. Tucked into the beautiful Cypress Hills Inter-provincial Park, we enjoyed phenomenal training and guest experiences at the Medalta Historic Clay District, the Elkwater Lodge & Resort, and the Historic Reesor Ranch. Plans to extend this opportunity are under way this year.
2010 Tourism Nova Scotia invested in a best practice mission, hosted by Earth Rhythms, to learn how experiential travel is being brokered with 50 community partners in the rural area around Riding Mountain National Park.
2010-09 Tourism New Brunswick launched their new Inner Journey’s experiential travel brand in April 2009 with a keynote address by Nancy Arsenault on “The Customer is Changing, So Must We” complete with investing in creating ‘experiential market readiness criteria’ for their new Experiences Collection! A year later, they now have 110 new experiences ‘in market’ for visitors in 2010!!
2009 Parks Canada piloted the use of the Explorer Quotient (EQ), a consumer friendly tool developed by the Canadian Tourism Commission in eight sights across Canada. Gros Morne National Park was one of the sites, and now they have a menu of a range of visitor experiences that appeal to nine different types of travellers interests!
2008-09 The Canadian Tourism Commission launched their Experiences Tool Kit for industry, a Photo guide and a number of excellent tools. They can be obtained for free, in French and English through a formal online-request. It takes a little digging around the site and separate requests to get each document, but it is worth the time.
2008 Experience PEI was launched to “create unique, personal experiences designed to provide lifelong memories” and they are doing a smash-up job, complete with community collaboration and working as a collective to “collaborate to compete”.
2007 Tales, Trails and Tunes Festival was launched in the picturesque community of Norris Point Newfoundland. A community collaboration and celebration of the wonderful musical talent of the region blended with daytime walks in spectacular Gros Morne National Park, afternoon workshops with artists and photographers, and evening entertainment by very talented local musicians and storytellers performed in churches, halls, theatres and pubs throughout Norris Point.
2005 – The Gros Morne Institute for Sustainable Tourism was created (GMIST) and the signature course “Edge of the Wedge” that delivers leading edge experiential travel training to Atlantic Canada. Twenty courses, 500+ people later, there are excellent examples of business applying the principles and making a difference!
… since the beginning of this evolution, the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site in partnership with the Halifax Citadel Regimental Association have been developing, offering and expanding the range of experiential travel programs for a wide range of FIT (fully independent travelers) to CMIT (corporate, meeting and incentive travel) groups to the site. They work in multiple sectors and optimize the assets and attributes of the historic site in admirable ways that protect and ‘present’ the site in engaging, meaningful ways, customized to different traveler interests/market segments.
I could go on and back track a decade … but this is just a sample of what is happening in Canada on the experiential tourism product and market development front and there is more to come!