MARTIN LITTLE JOHN – OPPORTUNITIES MOUNTAIN BIKE TOURISM
British Columbia is the epicentre of the mountain biking world and participation rates are still going up. There is a wide range of ages that are involved in this sport, with the median age at 30 years and the majority of participants being male. More and more women though are taking an interest in the sport.
Positive aspects to Mountain bike tourism are:
· That it is important to the industry.
· It is organized and led by the community.
· It supports the tourism growth and local recreation.
· It is a low investment.
· It encourages pride within the community.
3 critical factors to implementing the sport are;
1. Signage and maps of the trails and having a management system in place.
2. Having a local stakeholder alliance such as DMO’s, land manager and services.
3. Funding sources such as membership fees to cover the maintenance, infrastructure and marketing.
Two case studies were presented and the common threads were:
· It is important to have community support.
· Need to have a plan and make sure that all paper work is in place before starting construction of the trails.
· Build healthy relationships with all stakeholders and the community.
· Be aware of the competing interest such as forestry/logging.
· Make sure that land access, i.e. license of occupation and right of way agreements for using private properties are in order.
NOELLE KEKULA & CONNIE FALK – HORSE TRAILS AND CAMPSITE PARTNERSHIPS ON THE BONAPARTE PLATEAU – Again it was mentioned the importance on building healthy relationships and partnerships. An interesting piece of information was to go to the job creation program when in need of help as this is an area where you can get skilled people to help build trails and campsites. Advice given on where to start:
1. Talk to Recreation Sites and Trails on your plan and to see if it can work.
2. You need to find out where trail authorization is required.
3. Be prepared to spend time on the paper work and legalities as this is a slow drawn-out process.
4. Consultation takes place with all the stakeholders.
5. To avoid delay, have your plan as in-depth and complete as possible.
6. Work with First Nations, they love to share their culture, you need to understand what is important to them, i;e. they preserve culturally modified trees and to know which is a modified tree you will see a strip of bark removed while it was young.
7. Get to know the local ranchers as they will be a great help in the creation of the trails.
8. Have good collaboration with all stakeholders, as this is key.
BILL RICHARDSON-STARTING A TOURISM INDUSTRY FROM SCRATCH
It was mentioned that the number one thing people are looking for is a relaxing atmosphere with friends and family. A strategy when you don’t have the resources is to take a small group and give them a wonderful experience. A tip given was that you could make something out of nothing for example a young entrepreneur decided to create a trail up a very steep hill in order to ride his mountain bike up there as fast as he could, which in turn has become a popular yearly competition bringing many visitors to the community.
Tourism development methodology
1. Identify tourism assets and options
2. Choose one tourism asset to develop
3. SWOT your tourism activity
4. Develop your strategy to overcome your challenges
5. Define your market
6. Develop a marketing strategy
7. Resource development (people, money, skills, infrastructure etc)
8. Build community support
9. Choose 5-8 key people to help build community support
There are two kinds of tourism, destination or diversion (when people are going to a destination they divert to another place). “A tourism product does not have to be big to be of high value”.
New trends in tourism are short get a ways within 150 miles or a once in a life time experience.
MOBILE WORKSHOPPAT CORBETT – WALKING THE HILLS HEALTH RANCH.
The theme of this workshop was to see some of the trails found on the ranch. There was a fair amount of conference visitors who took part in this activity. From the introduction that Pat gave us on some of the history of the ranch to the finish of the tour was a 2 hour exercise. The tour started off by walking through the corral campground which was an area that had a corral for each campsite. This allowed visitors that come to the ranch with their horses to have a safe place to keep their horsed during the night and while they were not out riding. The campsites are large to allow easy movability for large vehicles. The area is close to the lodge so that the visitors can easily walk up to the restaurant, showers, pool etc. The trail that runs through this campsite is the original gold rush trail which was a pretty amazing piece of information. It left me feeling a little in awe to know that this track had seen so much activity in the past and was still being used. From the campsite and still on the original gold rush trail we walked down trail 10 which led us to the main road where Pat showed us an underpass he had constructed to allow his visitors and community members a safe crossing to either side of the road. From here we turned left and came to the biathlon trail and shooting stadium. With all the dirt that was extracted for the making of the underpass, Pat had the shooting stadium built. This is a fairly large area with the dirt built up to create a wall in the shape of a half moon and this prevented the pellet bullets from going beyond the wall. Lots of starlings were out pecking for their breakfast while we were there. The walk then went on down the biathlon trail until we came to a fence marking the boundary. From there we basically just walked back, but on trail 21. All these trails are ski and skidoo trails in the winter. The biathlon has its own trails in a separate area. In the summer these trails become in use for mountain biking, walking, hiking and horse back riding. ATV’s are not allowed on the trails due to the damage they can cause. There were no signs as such up to guide visitors on what trails they were using except for the occasional sign stating it was a skidoo trail on a B for biathlon. Apparently signs go up when the season is about to start, so we were in between seasons and were therefore in the transition period. There are three categories of endurance trails to choose from, easy, moderate and advanced. The longest trail is 6.6 kms and is classed as an easy trail. The longest advanced trail is 3.5 kms. Maintaining these trails has a large cost to it. They have small machinery as well as a large snow plough when there is a lot of snow. With the amount of trails to be groomed and maintained it takes a lot of man hours. These trails are groomed and cleaned up twice a year. There is a $10.00 fee to use the trails, apart from people just walking the trails, so therefore it is always a worry that they get enough visitors using the trails in order to cover this cost.
This has been a full on, very informative and well organized conference. A lot of information has been shared in the last two days. What I saw as a common issue throughout the event is the challenge in either developing healthy relationships with stakeholders and politicians or being unaware of the importance of building these healthy relationships. I also learnt that small tourism businesses are not taken seriously by government and this has created huge challenges for these small tourism operators. It seems to me that education is a missing link here on a number of fronts. There needs to be awareness on the value of these businesses and how they are a sustainable means of economic growth. One area that needs to be addressed is the conflict between small businesses and land tenure and the power forestry have with the right to come onto that land and clear cut it. This seems a very unfair practise and an unbalanced process. If a lease is granted on crown land then government should honour that and not allow forestry the privilege of coming in and clear cutting that area. Could TIA not be involved in bringing rural tourism operators together as one voice to pressure government to change this policy? Again could TIA not bring awareness to the people of BC through a visual manner that this is goes on and that it not only affects sustainable businesses, but that clear cutting is still taking place in a big way in BC. I believe there needs to be more awareness on what sustainability looks like. We basically look at sustainability as an environmental issue, whereas it is much larger than that. Without a sustainable environment, we do not have a sustainable economy, a sustainable business environment or a sustainable life style; they all go hand in hand. Government needs to take responsibility of this and not rely so heavily on forestry and mining etc as the main economic factors. Government is responsible for taking care of all its people and businesses in the country, so maybe TIA and other small business organizations can look at creating partnerships and working together in bringing awareness to the people on these unfair issues and demanding policy changes with finding a more “sustainable” and balanced way to protect all businesses in the country. From our Policy and Planning class we were taught that, we the people do have the power, but we have to stand together and demand change. Maybe it is time to bring awareness to the people so that we can make a choice of whether we want to take our power back or not.Creating those healthy relationships with all stakeholders and learning from each party becomes critical when you understand the depth of what a sustainable environment really entails.