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ITA promoting experiential tourism 0

Michel Forest

The ITA’s Gail McDonald appeared before Town of Winnipeg Beach council on Jan. 9 to promote the concept of ‘experiential tourism.’

The ITA’s Gail McDonald appeared before Town of Winnipeg Beach council on Jan. 9 to promote the concept of ‘experiential tourism.’

The Interlake Tourism Association’s Gail McDonald appeared before the Town of Winnipeg Beach council on Jan. 9 as part of her tour of Interlake municipalities to promote the concept of “experiential tourism.”

“We are now moving towards introducing the idea of experiential tourism in the Interlake as a means to using tourism facilities and infrastructure all year-round rather than just the summer months,” McDonald said during her 15 -min. presentation to the councillors.

While it is by no means a new concept in the tourism industry (at the provincial level Travel Manitoba implemented it some time ago under the name “Cutting Edge” while the Canadian Tourism Commission’s version of a similar program is called “Edge of the Wedge”), McDonald believes that this form of tourism will do well in attracting a new clientele by targeting specific activities that tourists and travelers will have identified as part of their EQ (explorer quotient).

“An example of experiential tourism for Winnipeg Beach could be a small group of tourists who are interested in spending the day ice fishing on Lake Winnipeg with a local fisherman,” McDonald says.

“Experiential tourism is all about authentic, local people and experiences, where travelers can have a hands-on experience with old-timers, storytellers, and other similar individuals.”

What also sets experiential tourism apart from other visitor experiences is that it will attract smaller groups of visitors - perhaps 10 or 15 - who are willing to pay more for that specific, interactive experience rather than a busload or two of visitors who are only in town for a few hours with no specific interest in mind.

“For the first few years, we will be targeting three specific areas of interest: agriculture, ecotourism as well as regional and local culinary experiences,” says McDonald, adding that food, for example, “Is something that brings people together in a pleasurable experience.”

The ITA will be holding a training workshop called “Inter-Edge Experiential Tourism Workshop” Feb. 20-22 at Camp Douglas (formerly Camp Y) in the Woodlands area to begin introducing the concept to Interlake representatives, which she asked that communities identify for that workshop. These individuals would then serve as contacts between the ITA and local people or organizations who might have a tourism product or experience that would be well-suited to the concept of experiential tourism.

“Our goal right now is to have between six and eight authentic Interlake experiential tourism concepts ready for testing later this year and hopefully ready for the market by 2014,” McDonald says.

“We need to start getting ready for the next wave of Travel Manitoba tourists,” McDonald concludes, noting that Travel MB does its marketing with a two-year window into the future.

In other Wpg Beach council news: the Town of Winnipeg Beach will be renewing its Hometown Manitoba Grant application to obtain a 1/3 matching grant (to a maximum of $5,000) from the province to “update and enhance” the faded CPR Caboose in time for the 2014 centennial celebrations. While councillors seemed to be divided on whether or not this was a worthwhile project on which to spend time and money, it was generally agreed upon that the railroad did play a significant part in the history of the Town of Winnipeg Beach.

michel.forest@sunmedia.ca

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