It’s not the first time the region around Humboldt has embarked on regional tourism efforts, but a group of business people, municipal leaders and interest holders think it’s time for a new start. The Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce hosted a noon hour think tank on Wednesday, April 26 to consider reapproaching regional marketing for tourism and, by extension, business.
The model would be similar to the campaign dubbed “Land of the Living Sky” which was active several decades ago.
The noon hour session started with information from Tourism Saskatchewan and Corrina Kapeller. Kapeller took the participants through the broad spectrum of programs, supports and funding available to tourism businesses as startups or diversified interests. Some of the hottest trends in tourism businesses and attractions are centred around birding, wilderness wellness retreats, skywatching, agritourism with a culinary spin, and experiences connected with Indigenous culture.
Kapeller also took attendees through the potential of the Marketing and Event Partnership Program (MEPP) which has provided both funding and guidance for similar regional efforts in the past. Video testimonials were provided by business owners who have taken advantage of Tourism Saskatchewan offerings. The entrepreneurs came from all reaches of the province and ranged from the hospitality and food services industries to production of high quality goods such as hunting knives.
The consensus was that cooperation was king and that competitiveness would only quell efforts to present a strong regional marketplace. Recreation interests such as golf courses fare worse in competition than if they band together and create a regional appeal.
It’s an idea that’s had towns talking for sometime. Representatives from the communities of Manitou Beach, Watson, Muenster, Bruno, Humboldt, Melfort, Wakaw and others voiced their support for the concept of working together in a united fashion. Asked what the session and the concept had to offer the town of Wakaw, Recreation and Community Development Manager Dwane Burke supported the initiative.
“It’s embracing the possibilities and the opportunities for growth. We have a lot to offer, and town council has recognized that there are so many things that can be happening in the town of Wakaw economically, and that just grows your community. We want to start living that life as a community.”
There was a lengthy discussion, all energized and positive about the possibilities. One of the keys is to identify the thematic draws to the region that already exist. Some of those included recreational and natural features, a rich regional history, and existing businesses that anchor an appealing regional profile. Conversations continued as those gathered filed out of the meeting.
“I think what today demonstrates is that there is a unified desire to market our area as a region,” said Chamber Director Brent Fitzpatrick. “We’ve had municipal governments, private business, everybody coming together, and not a single dissenter amongst the group. Everybody is saying we need to look at this as a region. That sends a very clear message that we’re going to be looking at it.”
The event was the precursor to the actual work. Once the feedback from the day is consolidated, the Chamber plans for more outreach and to continue to gather interested businesses, towns and parties to join in what is hoped to be an exciting and profitable venture for the area. More meetings are planned.