Sunday, May 27

RCMP Heritage Centre to Enrich Saskatchewan's Tourism Offering

Photo: Claude-Jean Harel

The opening last week of the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina is a significant development for Regina and all Saskatchewan. Its potential as a new tourism attraction cannot be understated. Leader-Post business affairs reporter Bruce Johnstone is quite right to note in his article Saturday (“RCMP Centre is great for the city”) that the Centre will open all kinds of avenues for cultural heritage tourism development.

The first impact I see (and this will take some time to take shape) is in how the product partnerships, programming, current and future exhibits will allow us to tap into the RCMP ethos to maximize tourism revenues, not just in the city, but in the province as well. From a tourism exports point of view, the iconic value of the RCMP has clearly been demonstrated in many of our target markets abroad. There are rarely international travel industry marketplaces featuring Canada that don’t also feature an RCMP member in Red Serge at some point during the course of official ceremonies. The RCMP has always closely guarded the way its image is used in popular culture and in all economic endeavours. By supporting the creation of the RCMP Heritage Centre the way is has, our venerable national police service is stepping into the realm of cultural industries with both feet. This is bigger than the RCMP’s famed presence in Hollywood productions because of the authenticity that an interpretive centre implies. Authenticity is what today’s sophisticated consumers demand. It is up to us to render it for them in our products.

What the RCMP Heritage Centre will do for Regina is to help make visitors to the city stay longer by allowing them to participate in an authentic experience that can only be enjoyed in our capital city. What the Centre might do for the Saskatchewan tourism industry is provide us one more tool to help convey a sense of place and a distinctive identity to travellers elsewhere in the world who might have never heard of Saskatchewan. So they might think of our province as a place that offers unparalleled experiences when they are looking for holiday destinations and discoveries. The Centre’s exhibits will introduce them to rich grassland and forest landscapes, exceptional cultural diversity, the evolution of communications networks over areas with low population densities, the complexities of frontier diplomacy and political systems indigenous to this part of the world.

When an institution such as this opens, usually, there is an incubation process that is triggered. Tourism operators, staff at the Centre, our municipal, regional and provincial tourism marketing organizations are all busily trying to figure out ways to capitalize on the exceptional new resource now at our disposal to ensure it thrives and becomes all it can be for all of us.