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Sustainable Tourism Planning in Small Towns

The Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) and its Calgary Metropolitan Plan are strongly committed to strengthening local economies in the region. In the fall of 2014, the Town of Irricana expressed interest in being part of a pilot project proposed by CRP to strengthen sustainable tourism strategies and programs in small towns within the Calgary Region. The goal of sustainable tourism is to provide stable, ongoing economic and social benefits to the communities while protecting their natural resources. Since 2008, the Town of Irricana has pursued an economic growth strategy that honours the traditional values of a small town but also provides opportunities for development. The Town’s goals for growth are to (1) manage growth to maintain quality of life; (2) provide for economic growth and local business development, and (3) provide the necessary community services to area residents. Between May 2015 and April 2016, a Tourism Assessment Team (TAT) was engaged in a tourism assessment process in Irricana. The process was design to integrate the perspectives of local residents and businesses with the expert advice and support of resource individuals and organizations active in the regional and provincial tourism industry. Intended to assess the Town’s potential for tourism and its associated benefits, the assessment process included a variety of activities, including but not limited to community meetings, awareness campaigns, workshops, both resident and visitor surveys, as well as the creation of an attractions and facilities inventory list and a community asset map. Thanks to the work of the Tourism Assessment Team along with the CRP facilitator and members of the Resource Group (group of experts) the Town of Irricana is well positioned to execute tangible actions in support of a sustainable tourism plan that will have ongoing economic and social benefits to the community. “We are one step closer to achieving our Vision, to increase tourism that celebrates who we are and enhances our Town through community engagement, increased economic opportunities and promotion.”