Chinook Country receives tourism award
A cluster development and tourism strategy project that gives tourism operators the means to increase their own profitability by understanding potential customers has earned the Chinook Country Tourist Association the 2012 Growing Rural Tourism Rural Champion Award.
Minister of Tourism Parks and Recreation Jack Hayden presented the award to Chinook Country Tourist Association marketing projects specialist Colleen Bridges at the CRE April 3.
"This award means a lot coming from the people in the industry," said Bridges.
"We have worked really hard on the project and we still have a lot of steps to go."
The cluster development and tourism strategy project was developed by the Chinook Country Tourist Association using a new research-based tool prepared by the Canadian Tourism Commission called the Explorer Quotient, which explains how tourism operators can align marketing efforts to better reach customers.
"It brings all our members together and it helps us work in a collaborative environment creating packages that are appealing to certain types of travellers who are interested in what we have in our region in southeast Alberta," said Bridges. "They (members) have been so willing to give up time away from their operations, hotels and businesses to learn about the research, learn how to market their businesses, learn how to tell stories and learn how to price.
"Without the operators this project wouldn't be anything."
The tourist association has recently developed a new website housing the online booking engine www.exploresouthwestalberta.ca
"We just launched it last month and we had a flurry of sales over the last few weeks," said Bridges.
Chinook Country, as a region, borders British Columbia and Montana, and extends north to the Calgary city limits. It follows the Bow River east and includes Writing on Stone Provincial Park.
The Chinook Country Tourist Association was one of three nominees for the Champion Award, along with the Canadian Badlands Passion Play and the Fort McLeod Historical Association. Last year's award recipient was Aspen Crossing Tree Farm and Garden Centre.
The Rural Tourism Champion Award recognizes leadership, innovation and outstanding accomplishments in Alberta's rural areas through campaigns and projects that successfully promote their areas as a must-see destination. The award is sponsored by the Camrose Regional Exhibition, Alberta Agriculture, Alberta Tourism Parks and Recreation, and Travel Alberta.
Nominations were open to all organizations or individuals in Alberta's rural tourism industry.