Friday, January 11

Authenticity Helps Where Marketing Dollars Fall Short in Tourism

Destinations' greatest tourism asset may well be the authenticity of experience they provide visitors, according to the founder of Saskatchewan-based “boutique” travel company Great Excursions, Claude-Jean Harel: “Now more than ever is the time to bring this character forward in our efforts to harness the industry’s potential, especially in international markets"

Harnessing the exotic character of the communities and places where our events and festivals are staged is certainly part of the approach Harel advocates. Through Great Excursions’ participation at international tourism marketplaces over the years, Harel has become all the more aware of how elements of authenticity in tourism offerings can literally lift products above the crowd.

“In 2005, Saskatchewan welcomed Canada’s largest tourism trade show, Rendez-vous Canada. For the first time, many of the buyers from Germany and other countries whom we’d met over the years got to experience local hospitality first-hand. Late this fall, at Canada’s West Marketplace in Whistler, BC, I was reminded by some of my colleagues from Europe of how much of an impression that prairie friendliness had made on them. We just need to further develop products that capitalize on that local flavour now, and invest in them.”

Trained as an applied anthropologist at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Leicester in the UK, Harel left a promising career in broadcasting to build a tourism company that would make a difference through its social, economic and environmental responsibility policies.

What has made all the difference for Great Excursions is the way Internet has revolutionized tourism trade activities by allowing smaller tour operators to stake a claim on narrower, yet more lucrative market segments.

Highlighting the personal encounters with the host community and helping preserve the special places visited on the trips are all things that matter. While studies have shown that consumers are still not willing to pay more for so-called “green” tourism products, they increasingly favour trips that factor in these considerations into the offering.

Harel is banking on the lasting validity of responsible tourism practices in the years to come. The fact that virtually every hotel company in the United States now has an environmental specialist gives him reason to believe his instincts are pointing him in the right direction.

Tuesday, January 8

Don't Miss Claude-Jean Harel's Upcoming Photographic Travelogue

Radio and Print Campaign

Are you dreaming of going whalewatching on a sailboat, to view grizzlies while riding a horse? Are you thinking of going to Qu├ębec City for its 400th birthday?

I’m C-J, the Founder of Regina’s Great Excursions Company. I’m inviting you to our 10th anniversary open house at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, on Wednesday January 16 at 7:30 pm, for a photographic journey featuring some of Canada’s best holidays.

Visit to discover more. And don’t forget to join us at the RSM on January 16th at 7:30 pm. See you then!

Listen to the radio invitation aired on Lite92fm: