Explorer’s Edge Best Practice Mission Sustainable Tourism: Culinary • Cultural • Experiential • Nature
Nov 16-21, 2014
Defining Best Practice Mission: Tourism industry professionals travel to locations outside their home region (in this case PEI, NL, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) to gain knowledge and experience with educational and interactive learning experiences that illustrate best practices in tourism. The mission that visited Almaguin Highlands focused on Sustainable Tourism: Culinary • Cultural • Experiential • Nature
This past week Todd Lucier was very pleased to welcome Atlantic Canada tourism professionals to his Algonquin Park home, Northern Edge Algonquin in the Almaguin Highlands. The mission showcased Almaguin Highlands tourism experiences as Best Practices in Canada in culinary, cultural, experiential, and nature tourism under the umbrella of sustainable tourism.
Over the past decade Todd has worked with tourism industry professionals throughout Canada, in particular at the Gros Morne Institute for Sustainable Tourism where he has shared many stories of innovation and transformation from this community over the years.
Lucier said, “I was nervous. It is one thing to offer tourism training to tourism professionals in a classroom or conference centre. It’s also easy to write reports or make recommendations by writing about tourism. It’s quite another thing to offer learning experiences for my colleagues right in my own home and in the Almaguin Highlands with our partners and local businesses. I felt quite proud.”
“On this mission we spent the week with my team, partners and tourism allies from the surrounding community to learn how our remote, rural community in Almaguin has built world class experiential tourism offerings.”
The visitors explored concrete ways to leverage community assets – in people, experiences, and locations to build resilient communities. They also learned about the Almaguin Umbrella project and the importance of engaging the entire community in developing a regional identity.
“Usually Best Practice Missions involve quite a bit of travel between locations demonstrating excellence. I was delighted to be able to put a Best Practice Mission together in a way that brought focus to the Almaguin Highlands. Every time I thought about places outside Almaguin I could bring our guests, I was able to find a better example to bring the message home, right here in Almaguin.”
We wove together ideas/themes including: collaboration, learning from inspired people, and making the most of under-utilized community assets.
“I am very grateful to the people who lent their expertise to the mission. Tom Bryson, of Westwind Forestry led a forest walk to explain sustainable forestry, Kara Mitchell taught about sustainable trails and growing Shiitake mushrooms with Myco-op, chefs Justin Myles and Martin Belzile of Iron Skillet in Kearney hosted a meal focusing on local meat and vegetables. Boards Honey taught about honey production and value-added products, Sean Cotton of Tree Ring Records presented a private concert for our guests at Highlander Brew Co. highlighting just a small window on our unique cultural assets.”
Other contributors included Dan Commanda (Ojibwa artist), Vicki Arsenault (yoga and growing micro greens), Kelly Gibson at Bean There Cafe (coffee and snacks) to name just a few.
Participants came away with a deep appreciation for the value of infusing experiences will local flavours at mealtime and beyond, and inspiration to leverage their own resources to build new and exciting visitor experiences with an appreciation for the importance of community collaboration.