Monday, May 16, 2011

Accountants and other Daredevils:Unlocking your Inner Superhero

Like anyone who has had the good fortune to meet her, I have gained a lot from my interactions with Carol Patterson of Kalahari Management. Carol and I had a chance to connect at the recent South Carolina NET conference and she gave me a copy of her latest book "Accountants and other Daredevils: Unlocking your Inner Superhero". This is such a fun book, and worth the read. A talented story teller, in person and in writing, Carol begins the book by telling her own story of how she moved from being an accountant to following her inner compass to do something that mattered to her. Then, she transitions to tell the story of a number of inspiring individuals who work in rural tourism around the globe. In each story, readers are sure to find examples of what works and what doesn't, but moreso, I was reminded about the more valuable lessons in development work - that it takes people, bold ideas and relationships to make things move from ideas to reality.

Carol was also in the process of doing up a short video to share ideas on female travelers and she just emailed me last week to let me know that her newsletter is ready (and the video). If you want to sign up for her newsletters, see the contact information below...

spring newsletter with info on marketing to female travelers

video version at

and information on Carol Patterson

Kalahari Management, Inc. Nature Tourism Planning and Communications
(Tourism assessments • Feasibility studies • Conference Presentations • Training)

Author of The Business of Ecotourism and
Accountants and Other Daredevils: Unlocking Your Inner Superhero
Learn how you can increase the economic development and success of your business and community, by attracting cultural travelers, nature lovers and adventurers who want to spend money with you and her blog:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

BC Resort Municipalities Symposium

This week I was asked to deliver a keynote at the BC Resort Municipalities Symposium in Osoyoos, BC. This is a small but productive gathering of administrators from the 13 designated resort municipalities in BC to share their plans, initiatives and lessons learned on an annual basis. It was a pleasure to be asked to share some thoughts with them and to meet this elite group.

I always find keynotes to be a bit challenging and nerve wrecking. A good keynote can set the tone for a conference, pose questions, get people chewing on new ideas and offer suggestions. A poor one can put folks to sleep with someone at the podium for an extended period of time. I seek to do the former of these two. So, I spent some time discussing ideas with Jim Newman, of Osoyoos to make sure I could pitch something of value to the group.

In the end, I ended up making a few points (I think). I tried to start at the 30,000 foot level to have folks recognize that they are part of something much much larger than running operations at the community level. They are part of a larger international and national movement in rural development - of which I have written about more on this blog - amenity based rural development. The BC Resort Municipalities were created as a strategic provincial policy to provide supports for amenity rich locations in the province. Initially, this came with financial supports such as a share of the Hotel tax which could be reinvested back into communities for infrastructure and marketing (items which cause issues for many rural communities in tourism). Over the years, one of the most positive things that this group has done has been to create links with one another to exchange ideas. Knowledge is power when shared and the creation of a collective with experience in resort community development can act as a resource pool for the communities but also for the province.

I tried to reinforce in the talk how bold policy moves such as the creation of the BC Resort Municipalities needs to be followed up with ongoing support. New structures like this need time to evolve, to learn and to provide feedback on what is working and what is not. It may be the researcher in me, but I tend to think of this as an experiment in policy supports for rural tourism development - and as such, they need to be evaluated on an ongoing basis with adjustments made when they are supported by evidence. I'd be happy to provide this sort of research for the group as they continue on their evolutionary path and to the province as it finds ways to provide appropriate support.

For more information on this group and the Acts that created it, see:
BC Resort Municipality update
BC Resort Municipality Initiative

Saturday, May 7, 2011

From Policy to research and back again - Conference in Ottawa May 5

This week I attended the first Canadian Rural Policy Conference in Ottawa on May 5th called "From Policy to Research and Back Again". It was a great gathering mixing researchers and policy makers from across the country in a day jam packed with sessions, panel discussions, posters and networking.

I gave a session and paper called "The Homogeneity Dilemma: Fine Tuning Supports for Rural Tourism" based on my observations of the tendency for one-size fits all supports for rural communities. Here is the abstract anyways, and I will be pursuing having it published in an upcoming version of the Journal of Rural and Community Development.

Despite the tendency to generalize about rural areas, they are not homogenous. Programs to support development in rural areas however tend to assume homogeneity and are often packaged for one-size fits all use by various communities. This paper will outline a typology of rural tourism destinations based on level of engagement ranging from those just beginning to pursue tourism to those managing its impacts. Using data from six years of field research in rural British Columbia, the paper illustrates how current government supports within the delivery and development system showcase deficiencies for some types of rural areas seeking to develop tourism. Overall findings suggest that there is a dominance of supports for communities that are seeking to expand tourism via marketing models, however those that are in the earliest steps, and those that are dealing with saturation issues are currently without adequate supports. The paper provides recommendations for enhanced program supports for rural areas to more fully explore tourism as a diversification option or as a tool for amenity based rural development.

I often think that the measure of success of much of my research is the extent that it influences policy or decision making (at any level). So, I have been interested in how to do that for about 10 years. The Tourism Research Innovation Project helped me to gain a better understanding of the world of the "other" (policy makers) and one of the most important things I learned was the need to build relationships of trust between researchers and those who can use our research. I don't view knowledge mobilization as a one way exchange from researchers to policy makers -but rather a dynamic exchange of information and priorities and in many ways, a collaborative effort to create change in areas that need it (like rural development).

It was a pleasure to be at this conference and hear that I am not off track in this line of thinking and that others share this perspective and have practices that I can use to help me in this goal. Keep posted for next year's gathering - I am assuming that calling it the first - will mean that there is a second to come.

Photo is of Dr. Bill Reimer (top) and then of the dialogue session at the end of the day.