Wednesday, June 11

A Dragon Boat Festival approved for Banff National Park

(Originally published in TOURISM)

The first-ever Dragon Boat Festival for Banff National Park has been approved to glide the mystical waters of Lake Minnewanka on August 23 & 24, 2008. The non-motorized long-boat canoe race and festival activities are set to showcase National Park environmental stewardship through educational opportunities and an enhanced visitor experience.

A centuries-old race features four boats with teams of up to 20 paddlers in race heats of 200, 500 and 1000 metre stints. According to Andrea Thiessen, Director of Events and Special Projects, "group participants bring their competitive spirits to the lake and are required to build unity in an outdoor environment in order to successfully cross the finish line". Specialty cup races will include Breast Cancer Survivors and Emergency Medical Services. Cultural festival activities and interpretation will add excitement to the downtown core of Banff, while a "Towards Zero Waste" strategy continues to demonstrate our leadership in low-impact special events.

"Hosting cultural events in Banff National Park provides a non-traditional way of engaging Canadians and educating them about the special and unique place that is located in their backyard" says Julie Canning, President and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism. "We look forward to working collaboratively with Parks Canada, the Town of Banff, and the Alberta Dragon Boat Race Foundation on an integrated approach to running this exciting new event".

A Heritage Moment
Lake Minnewanka, originally called Devil's Lake, was renamed in 1888 because it was believed the name was too ominous for visitors. Its new name is translated from the Stoney word 'Minnee-wah-kah', which means the "Lake of the Water Spirit". In the late 1800's, the lake was home to Minnewanka Landing, a popular resort community. When the lake was dammed, the reservoir submerged Minnewanka Landing and it has now become a popular location for cold water diving.

Author: Annik LaRoche
Organization: Banff Lake Louise Tourism

American workers are vacation deprived

(Originally published in TOURISM)

For the eighth consecutive year, Americans were found to receive and use the smallest amount of vacation time among their counterparts in other countries.

Expedia recently commissioned its eighth annual Vacation Deprivation(TM) survey; despite reporting an average of 14 paid vacation days again this year (the same as 2007 and two more than in 2005), an estimated 47.5 million Americans (31 % of employed US adults) will not use all of their vacation days. Again this year, employed US adults will leave an average of three vacation days on the table, giving back more than 460 million vacation days in 2008.

Despite these statistics, Americans do see the value in vacations, with more than one-third (39 %) reporting they feel more productive and better about their job upon returning from vacation and 52 % claiming to feel rested, rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal life. Work responsibilities are one of the biggest deterrents to taking vacation, with 18 % of US adults responding that they've cancelled or postponed vacation plans because of work and 29 % admitting they have trouble coping with stress from work at some point in the vacation cycle. Additionally, nearly one quarter (24 %) report that they check work e-mail or voicemail while vacationing. That figure is up from only 16 % in 2005.

Expedia analyzed the vacation habits of employed workers in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy (and for the first time, the Netherlands and Austria). Canadians receive an average of 17 annual days, two less than 2007 but still three more than Americans. Among the European countries studied in the past, all workers receive more vacation days in 2008 than 2007. Great Britain has a two day increase over 2007, with 26 days, and Germany, Spain and France all saw increases of one day, receiving 27 days, 31 days and 37 days respectively. Employed workers in the Netherlands and Austria are awarded an average of 28 days in 2008.

When it comes to making vacation a priority, Expedia research saw a shift in attitudes toward taking time off among women and men. In 2007, men were more likely to feel guilty about taking time off from work (39 % versus 30 % of women). However, in 2008, women are more likely than men to feel guilty about taking time off from work (38 % women versus 28 % men), and men are more likely than women (16 % versus 11 %) to take a two-week vacation.

Biggest-ever tourism campaign entices western Canadians to stay in Alberta

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Travel Alberta has launched its biggest ever regional tourism marketing campaign. The $5.6 million multi-media program encourages Albertans and visitors from western Canada to "stay a little bit longer" in Alberta.

"This exciting and creative campaign showcases the many unique travel experiences Alberta has to offer around our province," said Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister Cindy Ady. "This program, made possible by the Tourism Levy, supports an important pillar of our economy that employs more than 111,000 people in every community in Alberta."

The multi-media program kicks off with a television campaign, supported by radio, seven travel and events guides distributed widely throughout the year and innovative billboards in Calgary and Edmonton. "Our goal is to increase the length of stay and subsequent expenditures of travellers from our largest markets," said Derek Coke-Kerr, Managing Director of Travel Alberta. "This is strategic marketing at its best as tourism in Alberta and Canada now faces increasing challenges of a higher Canadian dollar, higher gas prices and more competition from other destinations trying to attract Albertans to visit," he said.

Funding for tourism comes from the four per cent Tourism Levy. The levy, which replaced the five per cent Hotel Room Tax in 2005, provides Travel Alberta with a reliable, predictable and sustainable source of funding for marketing activities. Budget 2008 includes $67.2 million for tourism marketing and development, which represents an increase of almost $10 million over the previous year.

Albertans are responsible for about half of the approximately $5 billion in tourism expenditures generated annually in the province. Travel Alberta is the industry-led, market driven and research-based tourism destination marketing organization for Alberta. Travel Alberta's mandate is to implement the Strategic Tourism Marketing Plan which sets the goal to increase annual tourism expenditures in the province to $6.5 billion by 2011.

Author: Don Boynton
Organization: Travel Alberta

Friday, June 6

Aboriginal tourism: Responding to market segmentation trends

(Originally published in TOURISM)

He may not be of Aboriginal ancestry, but tourism planner Jacques Drapeau’s well-weighed comments make him the perfect ambassador for the soon-to-be-open Huron Wendat Nation Hotel-Museum, at Wendake, on the outskirts of Québec City. With its 55 rooms, this new 4-star facility on the Saint-Charles River draws both from the Huron Wendat culture, and from the relationship the Huron Wendat are keeping with the rest of the world through nature, spirituality and mythology.

“When we arrive here, we get a sense that the facility is composed of two parts: a tepee‑shaped structure houses the museum, and another connected structure – inspired by a traditional longhouse – where the accommodations, restaurant, and reception area are located. The restaurant can welcome 120 guests and will serve many dishes influenced by Aboriginal culinary traditions. There are also meeting rooms, various foyer areas for special functions and even massage facilities.”

Wood was used extensively as a building material, both inside and outside the establishment. All the facades of the museum and hotel are wood‑clad; the organic material is used decoratively and – as a clearly visible structural feature of the building – tree trunks act as pillars in many instances. There is much stonework as well, integrated with the exterior foundation and used strategically in public areas inside, as well as in floor systems in the bedrooms.

“The natural environment in which we are located permeates all aspects of the hotel experience,” notes Drapeau, whose consultancy was hired to help guide the project. “Instead of being confined to a hotel room, there is a living environment all around for guests to enjoy. Plus, the hotel is adjacent to the “Corridor des Cheminaux”, a former railway bed converted into the longest bike route in the Québec City region. On the grounds, there will be medicine‑themed and other types of gardens, hiking trails throughout the woods, and a pond filled with fish for guests to discover.”

The Huron Wendat Nation Hotel‑Museum proudly displays symbols unique to the First Nation, such as the turtle and the snake which are visible in various forms. Even the longhouse‑shaped accommodations complex meanders slightly, to mimic the snake’s movement.

Exactly who is the target market for this evocative new establishment? A clever mix of market segments, explains Jacques Drapeau: “Being a capital city, Québec is home to a good number of head offices, beside federal and provincial government institutions. We believe they will be interested by what is offered here, because we are a little off the beaten path. The advantage of holding meetings and events at Wendake is substantial when one realizes that once they are here, meeting participants are somewhat captive. Yes, people will be able to walk around Wendake, but we are some distance away from the recreational opportunities available in Québec city. Nowadays, organizations aim to rein in meeting participants, because it gets more and more expensive to hold meetings. Instead of hitting downtown at lunch, our guests will be able to go for a short walk in the forest or along the river. This is a competitive advantage that we will highlight when we approach clients in the MC&IT sector,” quips Drapeau.

Because the hotel is on the outskirts of Québec City, the market study demonstrated that in order to succeed, it had to be a higher‑end hotel. Current trends indicated that additional lure was needed, in the form of a minimum four‑star rating.

“We have already started to approach multipliers like wholesalers who are active on the European market, because there are clearly affinities there with the experiences we will offer. Latin America is an emerging market which we believe will yield positive outcomes. In the US, we believe our clients will be interested in a hotel like this for their Québec capital region events. And of particular interest will be the First Nations market. Up until now, First Nations meetings occurred mostly downtown Québec.” Because the Huron‑Wendat Nation is the local host nation, he explains, it would make sense for First Nations to gather at a hotel located on their territory.

“Yet, for our local clients, not only in the corporate sector but also for schools and seniors’ markets, the Hotel‑Museum will be an ideal excursion destination, given that the community‑owned establishment has joint museum‑hotel functions, something which is unique in Canada, and which imparts an innovative character to the operation.”

Because of its mid‑sized capacity, the weddings and family reunions sector is also an attractive one for the property, Drapeau points out. He notes that the hotel‑museum project raised a few eyebrows among its owners at various stages of development: “It is a major undertaking. That was to be expected from the Huron Nation, as it would be of Québec City citizens in general if put in a similar situation. Many questions were asked, but now that the project is completed, and the population is much more aware of the reasons why the hotel is a valid project, the focus turns more to the additional visitors it will generate for local businesses, retailers, restaurants, and other services.”

Drapeau predicts there will be unparalleled growth in the community as a result, because up until now, visitors only came to Wendake on a round‑trip from Québec city. From now on, visitors will be able to stay in Wendake.

Wanuskewin: governing for authenticity

Photo: Claude-Jean Harel

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Wanuskewin Heritage Park, on the west bank of the South Saskatchewan River five kilometres north of Saskatoon, includes seven hundred and sixty acres, with nineteen sites that represent the Northern Plains Peoples: summer and winter camp sites, bison kill sites, tipi rings and a boulder alignment known as a medicine wheel, all found within one kilometre of each other.

Almost 20 years ago, an award‑winning and elaborate interpretive centre was designed and built to reflect the character of the site as a historical gathering and meeting place over 8000 years of First Nations history. Wanuskewin still fulfills that meeting place role, providing a rich variety of programming for tours, which can be customized to fit into workshops, retreats, and companion events for conventions.

Wanuskewin's mission is to operate – under the leadership and guidance of First Nations people – a heritage site that contributes to increasing public awareness, understanding and appreciation of the cultural legacy of the Northern Plains First Nations people. Wanuskewin's governance structure is unique, with a wide range of partnerships and founded on the idea of a cooperative relationship between Aboriginal and non‑Aboriginal peoples. There are two governing boards:

Wanuskewin Indian Heritage Incorporated (WIHI) has thirteen members who are representatives of First Nations bands, districts, or cultural nations of Saskatchewan. WIHI was established to review planning for development of the Park, including cultural programming, traditional land use, and ceremonial and spiritual matters. WIHI ensures that the needs of First Nations people are met and an authentic and unique experience is provided for all visitors to the Park.

The operating board – Wanuskewin Heritage Park Authority (WHPA) – has twelve directors composed of both Aboriginal and non‑Aboriginal peoples and is the umbrella group for the partnerships that form Wanuskewin. The board members include representatives from WIHI, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, the City of Saskatoon, the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan, the University of Saskatchewan, the Meewasin Valley Authority and the Friends of Wanuskewin.

Canada's Significant 29 Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Experiences

(Originally published in TOURISM)

provided by Aboriginal Tourism Canada in partnership with the Canadian Tourism Commission

Atlantic (Nfld/Labrador/PEI)
Miawpukek Annual Pow wow

Bathurst Inlet Lodge

Nova Scotia
Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada

New Brunswick
Metepenagiag Heritage Park

Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations
Aventure Mikuan II – Innu
Croisières Essipit
Bercé par l’Harricana
Cruise North Expeditions (Kuujuaq, Nunavik)
Nunavik Arctic Survival Training Centre (NASTC)

Aboriginal Experiences – Turtle Island
Great Spirit Circle Trail
Canadian Cultural Tours
Temagami Anishnabai Tipi Camp
Cree Village Ecolodge

Manito Ahbee - Festival for all Nations and Bannock Point

Wanuskewin Heritage Park Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Batoche National Historic Site of Canada

Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Nakoda Lodge and Conference Centre

British Columbia
Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Linagaay
NK’MIP Resort
Quw’utsun Cultural and Conference Centre
Aboriginal Journeys
St.-Eugene Golf-Resort-Casino and the Ktunaxa Nation Interpretative Centre
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

Great River Journey Inc.

Northwest Territories
Aurora Village

Monday, June 2

Michel Fournier's Super Jump is postponed