1. What is the purpose of the project?
To develop a strategy that provides a shared vision for tourism in the Smoky Lake Region, a framework for stakeholders to collaborate, and a direction for tourism development over the next 10 years.
2. Why are we developing a tourism strategy?
Tourism has the potential to provide community and economic benefits, in addition to supporting the region's primary industries. The need for enhanced tourism within the Smoky Lake Region will be assessed and addressed through this tourism strategy.
The strategy will also help us understand what the Smoky Lake Region and the business community can do to support the community and economy through tourism. This represents a significant potential opportunity for the Smoky Lake Region:
- A source of community pride – Celebrating local culture and sharing it with the world can be a significant source of pride for communities, individuals, and cultures.
- Capacity to encourage community engagement – Tourism can provide opportunities for individuals within the community to become engaged through business, volunteerism, event/activity execution and interpretation of local culture.
- Enhancements to the quality of life for residents – Communities that embrace tourism can often justify enhancements to infrastructure events and activities well beyond what could be achieved without a stable source of external revenue flowing into the community. Local community members benefit from enhanced amenities.
- Preservation and Enhancement of Built and Natural Environments – The tourism industry can also contribute to the preservation and revitalization of built and natural environments in the Smoky Lake Region.
Specific Plan Objectives:
- Arrest the declining population to protect municipal core services including hospitals and schools
- See property values gradually return to a positive-growth pattern
- Reduce the unemployment
- Facilitate career opportunities for young people so they do not have to leave the area
- Ensure wealth generation is shared around the region
- Contribute to the preservation of heritage values of both the Victoria District and the wider region
3. Tourism has never been a focus for our community, so why are we looking at it now?
We believe there is untapped potential for this industry, and that it can support who we are: a thriving community for business and industry, with a highly-skilled workforce, proximity to major transportation hubs and home to Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region.
Tourism has potential to attract and grow our primary sectors. It can enhance quality of life by creating a sense of place, which would support major employers in the area with talent attraction. It can also support the retail community and cultivate economic diversification.
4. What are some of the benefits of tourism for a community?
Tourism has the potential to provide significant economic and social benefits for communities.
Economic benefits include:
- Bringing visitors dollars into the community, which have a high multiplier.
- Exposing the community to potential investors and homeowners.
- Positively impacting multiple sectors of the economy and encouraging business retention.
Community benefits include:
- Being a source of community pride.
- Encouraging community engagement.
- Enhancing quality of life for residents.
5. The Strategy has been jointly adopted by the Town and County by Bylaw. What does this mean?
The Strategy is a vision. The document is a conceptual path forward. By itself, it does not actually implement any of the necessary steps which it contemplates. Different aspects of implementation will now be brought forward, and each will require further public engagement and participation.
6. What are the next steps?
Now that the Strategy has been adopted, a Joint Town-County Working Group Ad hoc Committee has been hard at work finding answers to the many important questions that where asked during the first round of public participation, as well as creating a business plan to be brought forward to Joint Councils for consideration.
When this material is prepared and ready for public comment, it will be advertised online on the website, social media, and in newsprint.
7. Given the changing world of tourism and COVID-19, is now a bad time to be doing this?
As a global industry, tourism has a strong history of growth and has been proven to be resilient through significant crises and events. International tourism has seen continued expansion over the past few decades, despite occasional shocks. In the past 20 years, international tourist arrivals have risen from 675 million in 2000 to 1.5 billion today. This dramatic growth demonstrates the sector’s strength and resilience. Tourism is likely to change and evolve as a result of COVID-19.
The Smoky Lake region is well-placed to be on the leading edge of this evolution.