The South Canadian Rockies Tourism Association may be in its early stages of formation, but it has big plans for the future.
The new group recently announced the election of its board members and has plans to advocate for tourism opportunities in the region and bring industry issues to the attention of local governments.
Cole Fawcett, sales and marketing manager for Castle Mountain Resort, chairs the group and says it will focus on “empowering tourism operators, giving them additional knowledge to help them create new experiences.”
The council has representation from a variety of local businesses, including Heritage Inn Pincher Creek, Tamarack Outdoors, Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, York Creek B&B, Heritage Acres Farm Museum, Miner’s Mercantile, Heritage Crowsnest and Country Encounters, in addition to Castle Mountain.
Travel Alberta also lends its support, attending the association’s monthly meetings
Fawcett says Marie Everts, economic development officer for the Town of Pincher Creek, and Sacha Anderson, manager of Community Futures Crowsnest Pass, who serve as board advisors, were the driving force behind the push to move the group forward.
At present, SCRTA is focusing on developing a business strategy and building relationships with stakeholders and local councils.
It places high priority on growing tourism responsibly and sustainably, raising awareness about issues that hinder these goals.
According to Fawcett, one problem that is often overlooked in the industry is overtourism.
“An abundance of visitors can and often do have a negative impact on the life of residents and the ability to afford living in the area,” he says. It’s a balancing act — a delicate one at that.”
Although this has not been a problem in the area to date, it could become one in the future, he says, and SCRTA would plan to avoid such occurrences.
The group is already a few years in the making. Early in 2019, the provincial government and its partners funded a strategy document that sought to establish the need for a tourism management organization in the southern Rockies region.
Demand was strong, but efforts were temporarily stalled due to the pandemic.
Plans were revived in 2021, and last fall community members began putting their names forward for board positions. Fawcett says there weren’t enough volunteers for a formal election, but that there were enough to fill every seat.
At present, the group is in a period of transition. Fawcett says members are looking forward to getting back to in-person events to engage more tourism operators and offer more learning sessions.
Locals will have an opportunity to discuss post-pandemic recovery of the tourism sector at the Pincher Creek Tourism Town Hall, hosted by Travel Alberta and the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta. The event, set for March 9 at 10 a.m. at the Heritage Inn, will bring tourism businesses, government officials and residents together to develop a vision for the future of the industry.
To sign up online for the free event, visit bit.ly/3BIrMIH.
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