Strathcona County is a great place to work or live and now the county is hoping to become known as a great place to vacation.
A new online survey has been launched for county residents, and those who work in Strathcona County, to gauge your opinion on what tourism could look like in the area in the future.
“It is a 10-year strategy altogether and we’re looking for both resident and stakeholder input and there is a series of workshops to have an opportunity to develop a shared vision for tourism in Strathcona County in terms of what that looks like over the next decade,” explained Shane Olson, manager of commercial development with Strathcona County. “How we can further monetize the tourism industry from the county point of view or from the stakeholder point of view and what other kinds of initiatives or tasks we should look at.”
With lots of natural beauty, green spaces and other amenities in the county, Olson hopes to get some fresh ideas from residents that would help the county stand out when people are looking for places in Alberta to visit.
“Tourism product development opportunities to create new assets, new activities or new things to see and do. It could also focus on the existing assets we already have and we know visitor dollars in the community can have a high multiplier effect on the community and can also lead to things like placemaking and talent attraction,” Olson said. “The more we focus on tourism, the more we’ll be able to help industry and the businesses we have here find the talent pool they need to be successful longer term in terms of employee attraction and retention and we see tourism as a conduit.”
The survey is available through the Strathcona County Online Opinion Panel (SCOOP) and is available until Wednesday, Nov. 20.
“Understanding ideas and demands of residents and where they feel gaps maybe for our festivals and events. We have seen three new festivals this year and we know those brought tourists to hotels, but how else can we incentivize private citizens to start events and festivals in the community, what role the county has, what role other organizations have and it will look at a whole gambit of tourism-related issues?,” he said.
The county is also hosting a pop-up information session for residents on Thursday, Nov. 14 at Millennium Place from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
There will also be two separate sessions to get feedback from stakeholders on the tourism plans.
The county has hired Expedition Management Consulting to assist in the one-year timeframe for the information collection and then the results will be brought to council after it is wrapped up.
“Tourism has the potential to provide major economic and social benefits to our community,” Mayor Rod Frank said in a news release. “Tourism is known to enhance quality of life by creating a sense of place. This can support major employers in the area with talent attraction. It can also support the retail community and cultivate economic diversification by drawing visitors to Strathcona County.”
The county will be looking at everything from agricultural tourism to Indigenous tourism opportunities, as well as all the nature-based tourism sites like at the Beaver Hills UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Presentations on the results of the survey, pop-up info sessions and the proposed plans would be made to council in the fall of 2020.