New Report outlines compelling economic case to protect snow sport resorts in B.C.

A new report, “The Value of Ski Areas to the British Columbia Economy Phase Two: All Ski Areas” written by Ryan Staley outlines a compelling economic case to protect snow sports resorts in British Columbia.

Pique News story:

Full Destination British Columbia Report:

BC Aboriginal Youth Mountain Biking Project gaining momentum!

A new kickstarter program designed to support the introduction of Aboriginal Youth to Mountain Biking is gaining momentum.

The Aboriginal Youth Mountain Biking Program is a group of mountain bike riders, coaches and community leaders who wish to support and encourage Aboriginal youth and communities to participate and excel in the sport of mountain biking. The program is committed to supporting and encouraging youth and First Nation communities to get outdoors, reconnect with nature and live healthier active lives.

The goals for the program include the following:

  • Establish mountain biking as a viable option for First Nation communities & youth
  • Enhance leadership and teamwork, self-confidence and a love of sport among Aboriginal youth
  • Provide First Nation communities and youth with the skills and abilities to participate safely in mountain biking
  • To support the development of trails that are sustainable and respect Aboriginal Rights & Title and the role of First Nations as the stewards and caretakers of their territories

More information on the program can be found here:

To support the AYMBP kickstarter program, you can donate here:


Left Coast Insights published in Tourism Review International

We’ve been published! Ray Freeman (Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada) and Eugene Thomlinson (Latrobe University, Melbourne, Australia) have been published in a themed issue of Tourism Review International on cycling tourism research. Topic: Mountain Bike Tourism and Community Development in British Columbia: Critical Success Factors for the Future.Volume 18, Number 1, 2014, ISSN 1544-2712, E-ISSN 1943-4421

What is a Destination Story-Telling Framework?

The development and utilization of a story-telling theme and framework can assist a destination to develop a regional brand, support product and experience development, training, and marketing activities.

“Stories are an important part of (a communities’) culture due to their ability to transmit cultural values” (Nickson, 2013).  Story-telling can be a critical catalyst to engage community stakeholders to identify key tourism attributes. As an integral component of a training/education strategy, story-telling can create the foundation for training development with the intention of sharing the heritage, culture, and attractions of a community to the world. By creating story-telling frameworks, overriding themes can be identified which provide guidelines for tourism stakeholders to follow.  A framework ensures that the core theme or messaging is consistent for operators and across communities, while conversely allowing individuals and businesses to share their own stories, leveraged from an over-riding theme.

Themeing and What Visitors are Seeking in their Travel Experiences

Themeing an experience drives all design elements and staged events of the experience toward a unified story line that wholly captivates the customer.  The principles of effective themeing focus on opportunities that alter one’s sense of reality, offer authenticity, and engage the customer on an emotional level (Barlow, 2000).  “What captivates us now is special stuff, stuff that only a few of us can get, stuff that stands for something or symbolizes something.  And, more compelling than stuff, are experiences – events, trips, places, sounds, tastes that are out of the ordinary, memorable in their own right, precious in their uniqueness and fulfilling in a way that seems to make us more than we were…Some describe this phenomenon as ‘the experience economy‘” (Pine & Gilmore, 1998).

Marketing Elements and Analysis 

The key elements of a story-telling framework are based on the need for clustered stakeholders to create a tangible identity to use as the foundation for the sharing of stories from their communities.  The creation of an identity or brand will assist “the development of a service and marketing mix to occupy a specific place in the minds of customers within target markets” (Morrison, 2010, p. 208).  Furthermore, the creation of a positioning identity or brand would provide a theme to integrate into product and experience development, training and education (including entrepreneurial training), and marketing/promotional activities.  Ultimately, this theme would become a “story-telling” framework to be used as a map for planning, development, and delivery purposes.  Essentially, this road-map would be designed to assist in keeping everyone headed in the same direction while leveraging the individual and unique stories of stakeholders, operators, communities, and visitors.

The piece that ties all the regional tourism experiences together is a collaborative branding and marketing strategy.  The visitor experience starts at home during the initial planning stages of the trip.  Providing a clear and accessible brand that is reflective of the experience will help visitors find the experiences they are looking for in the region.  The branding strategy should comprise an overall story-telling theme that resonates with the tourism stakeholders and visitors. This approach could effectively speak to the emotional aspects of marketing in order to capture visitors’ attention and move them through the trip purchase cycle towards planning a trip to the region.  The development of this strategy would be most effectively achieved with support from branding, marketing, and digital strategy partners in concert with the destination story-telling framework.


Barlow, R. (2000, April 17). The Net upends tenets of loyaly marketing. Advertising Age.

Morrison, A. M. (2010).  Hospitality & travel marketing (4th ed., International ed.). Clifton Park, NY:  Delmar Cengage Learning.

Nickson, D. (2013), Human Resource Management for the Hospitality and Tourism Industries, Second Edition, Routledge

Pine, I., & Gilmore, J. (1998). Welcome to the Experience Economy. Harvard Business Review, 76(4), 97-105.


Impacts of Mountain Bike Tourism on Communities

In his blog post “Economic Impacts of Mountain Biking Tourism”, Lee Lau of has done an excellent job of synthesizing the economic impacts of developing mountain biking as a tourism attraction for our communities.  Like cycling in general, mountain biking may be viewed primarily as a recreational activity, without much thought on how this phenomenon contributes to investment in supporting infrastructure and services, as well as some of the other less-tangible outcomes of mountain biking for communities.

At a series of town-hall sessions hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Canadian Tourism Commission this spring, it was suggested that if we remove tourism inputs from our communities, our residential taxes would increase by 20 to 30%.  Economic Impact Studies (EIS) provide a tangible vehicle for people to readily understand the affects of an activity described by the scientific method, particularly when defined in the language of ‘jobs’ and ‘economy’.  However, quantitative analysis only provides a part of the story.  Mountain bike tourism also has the potential to provide a wider range of impacts and benefits beyond the economics. This is a more difficult story to tell which may be best described through qualitative methods. To Lee’s credit, in his blog he inferred that benefits can extend beyond economic impacts.

Some of the less tangible impacts of mountain bike tourism may include: increased opportunities for recreational mountain biking for diverse participant populations, increased destination awareness and tourism visitation, development and improvements of community infrastructure, spin-off benefits to indirect community players, support for youth recreation and community social development, programming opportunities for school districts and special populations, promotion of cluster and networking development, creation of community social capital, nurturing of innovation, knowledge transfer, improved competitiveness, promotion of local cultural, historical, ethnic, and geographic characteristics.

Looking at a case-study from my research on mountain biking tourism in BC, the North Cowichan community focus on cycling development is showing the realization of their community planning process with potential benefits embracing community health, recreation and environmental sustainability.  However, cycling infrastructure development of sufficient magnitude also provides a strong attraction for potential visitors from outside the region, including tourists originating from other domestic and International markets (as Lee said: “a thriving local scene with good trails and outstanding local community then tends to attract visitors from elsewhere”).  Furthermore, a diversity of cycling product and experiences has been shown to draw a broader range of tourists to a region.  In addition to the activity of cycling and mountain biking itself, many tourists who are attracted to these disciplines are also interested in experiencing any unique cultural, historical, physical, or social attributes which may be associated with or in proximity to a cycling and mountain biking experience in a destination region.

In order to facilitate development of a tangible mountain bike tourism strategy, key community champions and stakeholders need to be identified. These may include:

Mountain Bike Resorts
Commercial Tour Operators
Destination Marketing Organizations
First Nations
Industry Groups (Mountain Bike Clubs)
Mountain Bike Tourism Services (Accommodation, food, rental, transport)
Provincial (or State) Government Agencies
Regional & Municipal Governments
Trail Stewardship Groups
Private & Public-Sector Landowners
Event Organizers (Festivals/Races)
Educational Institutions
Insurance Experts
Athletes & Professional Mountain Bikers

Source: Tourism BC, 2010

Furthermore, many of these champions and/or stakeholders may be positioned to source funding or investment (including ‘in-kind’ support) to drive development (these examples are for North Cowichan):

North Cowichan Municipality trails development / maintenance
Bike clubs / volunteers (Riley McIntosh and the Cowichan Trail Stewards Society)
IMBA Canada (currently under re-development)
Community Futures Cowichan (CF Crowsnest Pass is a good referral example)
Destination British Columbia (Mountain Bike Tourism, Tourism Business Essentials Program, Community Tourism Futures)
Island Coastal Economic Trust
Cowichan Valley Regional District
Cowichan Tribes
Other Government (Health Authority)
Corporate Sponsors
Trans Canada Trail
Other NGO’s
Service Clubs

Source: Example from Municipality of North Cowichan Case Study

Incidentally, at the time of this writing, Martin Littlejohn (Executive Director of the Mountain Bike Tourism Association) and Patrick Lucas (Founder of the BC Aboriginal Youth Mountain Biking Project, and a Consultant) are currently engaging in a ‘research road-trip‘ (read: they are doing a lot of mountain biking!) to meet with community champions and stakeholders throughout Central and Northern British Columbia, with the intention of assisting communities in these regions to support the development of collective strategic mountain bike tourism development plans.  Martin and Patrick have already been successful in raising some investment towards these initiatives through a pine beetle recovery fund.

While economic impacts and associated job-creation will be a part of the conversations which Martin and Patrick are engaging with stakeholders, other less-tangible benefits to our communities need to be part of the equation to support the  (social, cultural, environmental, and financial) sustainability of mountain biking and ensure that mountain bike tourism may assist in building diverse experiences and vitality in our communities.

Integration of Winter Outdoor Recreation Stakeholder Interests on Public Lands

This literature review analyzes relevant considerations from peer-reviewed academic journal articles specific to multiple user conflicts on public lands as applied to a select group of winter outdoor recreation activities.  Managers of public lands face potential user conflicts from stakeholder groups who participate in non-complementary activities in regions where multiple stakeholder groups frequent.  In order to effectively facilitate positive interactions between disparate stakeholder groups, land managers may select strategies from a tool-kit of considerations and practices that have been revealed in the articles.

Stakeholder Integration

The development of policy frameworks for the balanced access and use of public lands for commercial and non-commercial winter outdoor recreationists provides complex challenges to effectively address the interests of identified stakeholder groups.  During the process of researching the literature, relevant subjects were identified for consideration, including:  the identification of issues which contribute to potential user conflicts, evolving community attitudes and societal values regarding the perception and importance of nature amenities, and availability and allocation of strategies and resources to effectively manage and support stakeholder group interactions.

Shifting Economies

Many rural and semi-rural communities throughout the Province of British Columbia have been experiencing a general decline in traditional resource-extraction based economic.  As a result, numerous commercial recreational stakeholders have assessed the viability of enhancing commercial outdoor recreational opportunities in these communities (Nepal 2004, p4).  This has been driven by perceptions of forest degradation and demand for non-forestry utilization of public lands, leading to the origins of sustainable forest management, aiming to maintain the environment, while supporting growth of financial, social and cultural opportunities (Owen, Duinker, & Beckley, 2008, p2).

Nature amenities provide numerous benefits to winter outdoor recreationists and those in the tourism industry who facilitate and provide opportunities for those recreationists.  This symbiotic relationship therefore supports the needs of commercial outdoor recreation interests in addition to the general public.  Grey, Duwors, Villeneuve, Boyd, & Legg (2003, p144) explained further:
Canada is the seventh most popular tourist destination in the world, and many visitors come to experience the county’s diverse ecosystems and the plants and animals found in them. This provides powerful socioeconomic incentives to maintain, and where possible, enhance plant and animal populations and habitats through job creation and capital investment.

In contrast, stakeholder groups who plan on expanding their interests in commercial recreation development as a means of taking advantage of the growth trend in tourism need to be cognizant of potential risks in addition to the opportunities.  Winter outdoor recreation is an important economic driver for regional economies and recent information about the threat of global climate change on this sector may have negative financial impacts on stakeholder interests (Scott, Dawson, & Jones, 2008, p577).  Furthermore, Ostrom 1990; Pedersen 1993; Abrahamsson 1998; Hultkrantz & Mortazavi 1998 advised:  “Landscape use can lead to land deterioration; as tourist landscapes exhibit resource subtractability and open access, they are a common-pool resource. Like other commons, tourist landscapes are vulnerable to overuse and deterioration” (Antilla & Stern 2005, p455).

User Conflicts

The competition for access to and use of outdoor recreation resources by the general public and commercial recreation stakeholder groups has been demonstrated through increased conflicts by non-complimentary stakeholder interest groups.  The growth in outdoor recreational activities has exposed the need for more contemporary management policies and resources to respond to the dynamism of stakeholder management (Nepal 2004, p4).  Without proactive initiative and collaboration, Brooks & Champ (2006, p795) indicated that, “Unmanaged recreation presents a challenge to recreation researchers and managers because it is shrouded in radical uncertainty, which results from disagreement over the definition of the problem, the strategies for resolution, and the outcomes of management.”  This was further clarified by  Brooks & Champ (2005, p285)who “define the unmanaged recreation phenomenon as a broad environmental decision and management problem, involving multiple stakeholders and numerous outdoor recreation activities and conflicts, occurring simultaneously in and around urbanizing National Forests.”  The complexity of attempting to effectively manage these user conflicts was further explained by Mansfield, Phaneuf, Reed Johnson, Yang, & Beach (2008, p 282):

Federal public lands management in the United States, by tradition and statute, has emphasized multiple uses. Many of these uses are complementary. Non-consumptive recreation activities, such as hiking and bird watching, are enhanced by undisturbed wilderness ambience and healthy wildlife populations. Often, however, the uses for which public lands are managed are directly competing.

In some cases, a stakeholder group may not have commercial or even recreational interests, however; their concerns may offer significant sway in influencing the decisions of land managers.  Seep, Johnson, & Watts (2007, p1539) noted:  “Many areas of mountain caribou winter habitat experience intensive use by recreational snowmobilers… We conclude that intensive snowmobiling has displaced caribou from an area of suitable habitat.”

Open Communication with Adaptive Capabilities

In order to suitably address regions of relatively unmanaged recreation, Brooks & Champ (2006, p795) suggested, “Overcoming [unmanaged recreation] requires a local social process that involves inclusive communication and collective action among all stakeholders with an interest in local recreation management.”   Moors & Dolter (2002), Burton et al.( 2003), Messier et al.( 2003) advised that the development of collaborative management plans requires an open public consultation process with adaptive capabilities in order to effectively respond to and incorporate evolving societal values, with a focus on addressing competing interests (Roberts, Simon, & Deering, 2006, p876).

“Since 1990, there has been more focus on sustainable management, with commitments to ecosystem-based management, an open public consultation process and an adaptive management approach to concerns” (Roberts et al., 2006, p876).  These comments offer information that highlights the transition towards more inclusive and sustainable community-based processes.  In addition, while Moores & Dolter 2002; Burton et al. 2003; Messier et al. 2003, supported this statement by describing that this process incorporates a more adaptive management approach with consideration for society’s values.  They advised: “To incorporate society’s social needs, forest management must plan for a suite of often competing social, economic and ecological values at large scales” (Roberts et al, 2006, p876).

Supporting Roberts et al.’s (2006) assertions, Grey et al. (2003, p132) clarified that the evolution of societal values encompass:  “cultural and social identity and awareness values, psychological values, educational values, scientific values, economic values, subsistence values, existence or vicarious values.”  Furthermore, Grey et al. asserted that; “even though some Canadians spend little time in nature, they take pleasure and comfort in knowing that it exists, and option or future values.”  Grey et al reinforce the growing importance of outdoor recreation and wilderness as holding complex values and intertwined importance to Canadians.

Temporal Considerations, Dynamism, and Influence

Wartick & Mahon (1994) suggested identifying and involving all significant stakeholders early in the planning process:  “Although it was virtually ignored until now in any explicit sense in the stakeholder literature, the idea of paying attention to various stakeholder relationships in a timely fashion has been a focus of issues management”, then qualified this statement with: “However, although time sensitivity is necessary, it is not sufficient to identify a stakeholder’s claim or “manager relationship” as urgent” (Mitchell, Agle, & Wood, 1997, p867).

Mitchell et al. (1997) advised land manager not to bow to time pressures imposed by stakeholder groups, but rather to focus on the dynamic nature of the negotiation process while remaining attentive to potential shifting power influence from the various stakeholder interests.  Mitchell et al. (1997) further suggested that managers of collaborative processes need to be cognizant of the dynamism of stakeholder positioning and the relevant issues on the table in order to ensure that negotiations meet ultimate objectives while ensuring sufficient integration of stakeholder group needs.

In addition to timing considerations for stakeholder integration, Mitchell et al. (1997, p879) explained dynamism as it relates more to stakeholder positioning: “latent stakeholders can increase their salience to managers and move into the “expectant stakeholder” category by acquiring just one of the missing attributes”; essentially increasing their influence in the negotiation process.

Stakeholder Diagnosis

Savage, Nix, Whitehead, & Blair (1991, p62) discussed stakeholder diagnosis:  “The literature often fails to classify types of stakeholders and delineate strategies for management.   Stakeholders’ significance depends upon the situation and the issues and managers must have appropriate methods to deal with different stakeholders.”  Savage et al (1991, p63) explained issues and dynamic influences in further support of this:

Issue specificity suggests that stakeholder diagnosis is an ongoing activity.  Executives constantly need to assess stakeholders’ interests, capabilities, and needs.  Without an appropriate framework, managers are likely to respond in the traditional ad hoc manner to stakeholders – greasing the squeaky wheel.

More specifically, Savage et al. (1991, p72) recommended going beyond identifying organizational stakeholders by examining a stakeholders’ potential for threat, cooperation and their emerging needs.  Plans may have to be modified to involve them or to sidestep problems that may occur when an organization is overwhelmed by stakeholders.  “They must develop the organizations’ capacity for strategic stakeholder management rather than concentrating only on effectively dealing with a particular stake holder on a specific issue.”

Furthermore, according to Lord & Elmendorf (2008, p87) the leaders of recreation organizations are often invited to participate in the recreation planning process because they are presumed to be aware of the needs of all recreationists who partake in similar recreational activities.  However, they cautioned that when public agencies encourage recreational organizations to participate in the recreation planning process they run the risk of “general lack of support to possible conflict, legal concerns and efforts to block actions.   This research was conducted to alert public agency planners and the representatives of interest groups advising them of the need to guard against potential biases and to ascertain that the needs of all segments of the recreating community are considered.”

Finally, Floyd (1998) & Kuentzel (2001) recognized not all participants in the stakeholder process may be represented equitably due to status, barriers or the nature of the recreational opportunity. “The elite leisure class (e.g., people often engaged on state advisory commissions) that can result from the end stages of recreation specialization may not be representative of a majority of participants in the sport. A variety of recreational opportunities and barriers may affect the involvement of many other participants in a sport” (Lord & Elmendorf 2008, p94).

Hence, the research reveals that it is imperative that managers of stakeholder integration processes be aware of all potential stakeholder groups and consider the dynamism of salience and how stakeholder groups may adjust their positions and potentially influence negotiations that may already be well under way.

Social Capital

The literature informs that awareness of the complex, shifting matrix of value systems and influences on community decision-making processes is essential in ensuring that suitable importance is assigned to all potentially significant stakeholders in order to promote an effective collaboration process.  For example, utilizing Community-based collaborative resource management (CBCRM) processes as suggested by Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez (2008, p324) is showing a gain in popularity as a means to address issues of potential conflict between stakeholders and is defined as “groups of diverse stakeholders who convene voluntarily to work on natural resource policy, planning, or management issues specific to a particular location.”  Furthermore, Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez (2008) inferred that through a collaborative, community-based process, stakeholders can create Social Capital assets to more effectively achieve greater good for a broader spectrum of stakeholders.  Putnam (2003) expanded this definition by stating: “In the context of CBCRM, social capital is an asset that groups or stakeholders can use to obtain the results they seek and accomplish goals that are otherwise unattainable” (Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez, 2008, p324).

Examples of Social Capital that may more effectively be created through CBCRM, according to Adger (2003), & Olsson et al. (2004) may well include: better access to financial capital, better utilization of human capital, and enhancement of natural capital, as they stated: “it may improve a group’s or community’s ability to come up with innovative solutions to problems, manage risk, and adapt to change” (Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez, 2008, p324).  Essentially, Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez (2008) presented the notion that CBCRM may provide more powerful synergies and outcomes than individual stakeholder groups approaching negotiations from confrontational positions.

Contrary to the benefits of a CBCRM approach, Singleton (2002), and Walker & Hurley (2004) pointed out Social Capital benefits and outcomes in stakeholder interactions may be negatively influenced by those who attempt to place their interests above those of the common good (Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez (2008, p325).  Additionally, Pellizzoni (2003); Dovers & Handmer (1993) advised:  “Despite our best intentions at rational control and efficiency in recreation management, there continues to be radical uncertainty and contradiction in the decisions that we make about how to coexist with one another and ecosystems over the long term” (Brooks & Champ, 2006, p795).

To facilitate public awareness of multiple stakeholder management issues, Owen, Duinker, & Beckley (2008, p10) suggested that collaboration with appropriate stakeholders combined with controlled public access would increase understanding to meet mutual objectives. Through stakeholder surveys and diligent, adaptive management, effective multiple-stakeholder management efforts can yield satisfactory outcomes.


The selected literature in this review revealed prominent aspects of stakeholder group management for consideration of public land managers that may be utilized to mitigate multiple user conflicts on public lands as applied to a select group of winter outdoor recreation activities.  The concept of Stakeholder Integration as derived from the literature suggests that early identification and participation of relevant stakeholder groups who are encouraged to participate in the development of policy frameworks could facilitate balanced access and use of public lands.  The literature further suggests that commercial and non-commercial winter outdoor recreationists can achieve a sense of ownership through a collaborative process versus more traditional confrontational stances.

As a part of facilitating a collaborative process, the literature advises land managers to identify issues which contribute to potential stakeholder group conflicts, including shifting economic circumstances and evolving community attitudes and societal values that shape perceptions and values. The literature additionally suggests that land managers keep in mind stakeholder groups’ values and priorities may shift as new information is revealed during the process.  Therefore, a stakeholder group that initially exhibited latent behaviours may shift to become more influential in negotiations as new information is in introduced into the process.

In order to effectively mitigate potential stakeholder group conflicts, the literature introduces processes which encourage open communications with adaptive capabilities that can be successful in encouraging collaboration and adjusting developing policy frameworks with buy-in from participating stakeholder groups.   The literature further advises land managers to be cognizant of temporal considerations, dynamism, and influence capabilities of stakeholder groups through a thorough and ongoing stakeholder diagnosis and suggests the integration of stakeholder groups concerns through a more collaborative process can foster the development of Social Capital assets to the benefit of all participating stakeholder groups.

In summing, utilization of these considerations as revealed from a review of the research within this construct could greatly enhance the integration of winter outdoor recreation stakeholder interests on public lands more effectively than traditional confrontational strategies.  As commercial and non-commercial stakeholder groups continue to increase their pressure on natural amenities, their collaborative participation in the development of management frameworks for public lands can ensure preservation of economic, environmental, social, and cultural interests.




Anttila S., and Stern, C., The Voluntary Provision of Snowmobile Trails on Private Land in Sweden,  Rationality & Society, Volume/Issue: 17 (4), Date: Nov 1, 2005, Page: 453

Brooks, J.J., and Champ, P.A., Understanding the Wicked Nature of ‘‘Unmanaged Recreation’’ in Colorado’s Front Range, Environmental Management, April 2006, DOI 10.1007/s00267-005-0372-2, 38:784–798

Grey, P., Duwors, E., Villeneuve, M. Boyd, S., and Legg, D., (2003) The Socioeconomic Significance of Nature-Based Recreation in Canada, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 86: 129–147

Lord, B., and Elmendorf, W.F., Are Recreation Organizations Representative of All Participants? Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, Spring 2008, Volume 26, Number 1, pp. 87 – 96

Mansfield, C., Phaneuf, D.J., Reed Johnson, F., Yang, J-C., and Beach, R., Preferences for Public Lands Management under Competing Uses: The Case of Yellowstone National Park, Land Economics, May 2008, 84 (2): 282-305, ISSN 0023-7639; E-ISSN 1543-8325

Mitchell, R.K., Agle, B.R., and Wood, D.J., Towards a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts, Academy of Management Review, (1997) Volume 22, Number 4, 853-886, (AN 9711022105)

Nepal, S.K., Sustaining Mountain Communities: Residents’ Responses to Tourism Development in Valemount, British Columbia (2004), Land Use Institute, University of Northern British Columbia, Retrieved from

Owen, R.J., Duinker P.N., and Beckley T.M., Capturing Old-Growth Values for Use in Forest Decision-Making, Environmental Management (2008) DOI 10.1007/s00267-008-9133-3

Roberts, B.A., Simon, N.P.P., and Deering, K.W., The forests and woodlands of Labrador, Canada: ecology, distribution and future management, Ecological Research, (2006) 21: 868–880, Retrieved from

Savage, G.T., Nix, T.W., Whitehead, C.J., and Blair, J.D., Strategies for assessing and managing organizational stakeholders, Academy of Management Executive, May 1991, Volume 5, Number 2, 5, 2; ABI/INFORM Global, PG. 61-75, (AN 4274682)

Scott, D., Dawson, J., and Jones, B., Climate change vulnerability of the US Northeast winter recreation – tourism sector, Mitigation & Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, June 2008, Vol. 13 Issue 5/6, p577-596, 20p, DOI: 10.1007/s11027-007-9136-z

Seip, D.R., Johnson, C.J., and Watts, G.S., Displacement of Mountain Caribou from Winter Habitat by Snowmobiles, Journal of Wildlife Management, 71(5):1539–1544; 2007, DOI: 10.2193/2006-387

Wagner, C.L., and Fernandez-Gimenez, M.E., Does Community-Based Collaborative Resource Management Increase Social Capital? Society & Natural Resources, April 2008, 21:4, 324-344,
DOI: 10.1080/08941920701864344

Balancing tourism with culture

Guest post by Amy Dove, Royal Roads University

Travellers are looking, more than ever, for experiences that empower communities to share their cultures without exploiting them. For communities eager to share, there are tourism opportunities to be had that balance exposure with respectful preservation.

Royal Roads University MA in Tourism Management alumni Ray Freeman and Ryan Staley and their team are helping the First Nation communities that make up the Treaty 7 region in southern Alberta find that balance by drafting a tourism strategic plan for the region.


“There is a growing interest and excitement from (the communities) to develop their own stories to showcase their culture,” Freeman says. “There are opportunities to learn from the elders and share that with the youth, and to use that as a vehicle to create education and business development.”

The plan will be presented to Treaty 7 Management Corporation (T7MC) May 7th for approval and ultimately connection to the communities who can benefit directly from the work.

“Our primary role with tourism is to get our communities actively involved in Alberta’s tourism industry,” says Corbin Provost, tourism liaison for T7MC, who notes that the organization provides an advisory role for all seven communities, as directed by the individual chiefs. “It would diversify the source of revenue that communities have.”

The plan is the result of almost a year’s worth of work researching the tourism opportunities of southern Alberta as they relate to First Nations communities. Treaty 7 provides advisory and advocacy services to all of the seven First Nations (Siksika Nation, Piikani Nation, Blood Tribe, Tsuu T’ina Nation, and Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley Nakoda Nations) that compose the Treaty 7 territory in southern Alberta. The communities range from approximately 2,000 to more than 10,000 people and there is a wide range of opportunity within each community.

Based on feedback from the communities, the report recommends “smaller wins and tangible types of development pieces that can be done in the short term,” Freeman says. “The focus is on education and helping them to develop tourism experiences.”

That includes attractions and recreational trail opportunities as well as a recommendation to create a destination marketing organization, enhancing training opportunities and marketing strategies, Staley says.

“Geography presents some different opportunities,” Provost says. “Some in the south and east are really agricultural based and a lot of the opportunities are focused on the history and the culture of the people. That is the draw. Whereas you have communities like Siksika Nation, they focus elsewhere with (a conference centre, hotel and casino).”

The strategy aims to highlight the common interests of diverse communities, namely being a desire to build capacity to create and support a culture of learning, sharing and storytelling, Freeman says. “They are very proud of their cultures and heritage and they want to showcase that and share it with others,” he says. Their research shows that is what a large percentage of travellers are looking for as well. Balancing that interest with a respect for culture is woven throughout the strategy.

“Many of First Nation communities have culturally sensitive sites … there are some things they don’t want to share,” Freeman says. “It’s about finding that balance. It’s about understanding the appropriate protocols and it’s a matter of the community agreeing on what is culturally appropriate for them.”

T7MC choose to work with the Royal Roads team because of the diversity of backgrounds of those in the group. That includes the work of Patrick Lucas, a community planner with David Nairne + Associates (DNA) who co-ordinated the community engagement sessions for the plan, who has extensive experience working with First Nations communities in B.C. The appeal of the Royal Roads team for him was the academic backing they brought to understanding market trends, he says.

“They have been able to provide a lot of insight in that way,” Lucas says. “It is useful for us and made the project better for Treaty 7.”

The grounding for that approach was born in the Royal Roads classroom. It’s about community engagement, leadership, social considerations and technical marketing know-how, Freeman says. “It is putting it all into play for the benefit of communities.”

Events: Drive visitation and support brand image

Communities and resorts, particularly those that have high and low seasons, are often looking for a strategy to drive occupancy and create an exciting attractive atmosphere for visitors. Festivals and events have the power to both attract crowds and build brand image for a destination. One great example of a community that uses festivals and events to drive off-season business is Whistler. Have a look at the Whistler events calendar; you will see that there is something happening almost every weekend through the spring, summer, and fall. These types of events may not necessarily work for every destination.

The choice of which events to bring to a community are often politically based (Chalip, Green & Hill, 2003, p. 214). Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are often involved in planning events in their communities to help promote tourism in otherwise flat or slower tourism seasons. Sports tourism and sports event are the biggest drivers of tourism worldwide (Pike, 2008, p. 111). Getz (2003) suggests that sport event tourism is the biggest and most profitable niche in the sport tourism industry. While sport events are a major attraction, cultural or celebratory events also have the ability to generate visitations to a destination (Pike, 2008, p. 111-112). The potential for an event to attract a crowd is an important factor, the media attention’s impact on developing a destination image could be more important than actual visitor spending (Getz, 2003, p. 51). Therefore the image portrayed by the event in question should match the desired image of the destination (Chalip, Green & Hill, 2003, p.228); and the event choice should be influenced by the image desired by the DMO and local community.

Participatory events have become increasingly popular and effective at driving visitation. For example, a Tough Mudder event in the Callaghan Valley’s Whistler Olympic Park attracted 25,000 people in 2013. With participatory events, visitors are more likely to tell their stories on social media, further promoting the destination’s brand image.

To determine what types of events are appropriate in a community, we use a combination of market research (including psychographics) and public engagement. This allows us to make sure that the event image aligns with the destination’s brand image. We also evaluate the destination’s capacity to support the desired events and festivals. There may even be opportunities to run different events simultaneously to capture different market segments.





Tourism Area Life Cycle for Community Tourism Development

This is a theoretical graph of visitor numbers over time as a destination develops.  The concept is helpful for communities to understand that tourist destinations don’t start out as thriving economic generators but progress from unique hideaway to chic destination and eventually into decline.

Tourism Development Curve

Butler’s Curve With Cohen’s Tourist Typologies

In the early stages of development the destination is visited by people who characterize themselves as travelers as opposed to tourists…known as the drifter.  The Drifter Typology is usually associated with backpackers often trying to find undiscovered places.  As the destination becomes discovered the Explorer Typology will begin to visit.  These travelers are usually willing to spend more to visit a new and ‘unspoiled’ destination…think hippies becoming yuppies.  As the destination matures it becomes mainstream and Mass Tourists start to plan their own trips, seeking a more developed destination.  Finally, large tour operators see an opportunity to package and sell the destination.  As mass tourist visits increase, the early adopters seek out other undiscovered places.  At the peak of the curve visits may start to decline because the destination is over capacity, may stabilize at a sustainable level, or the destination may rejuvenate itself and continue to grow again.  Over a longer time period, a destination may go through many cycles of rise and decline.  Awareness of these cycles can assist destination planners to anticipate and strive to mitigate the declines.



Cohen: Rethinking the sociology of tourism (1979)