Refereed academic paper for presentation
ÉCONOMUSÉE© is a non-profit organization founded in 1992 in Quebec, Canada which now includes over 70 Artisans from across Canada and Europe. The model promotes the preservation of traditional knowledge and local entrepreneurship by utilizing cultural tourism to showcase artisans and encourage the consumption of locally produced artisanal products. This study was completed in order to provide data on the growth and effectiveness of the ÉCONOMUSÉE program in British Columbia since it was first introduced in 2012. This paper highlights the results of the impact of the model on overall visitor experience. At this point in time, it appears that there are several positive indicators of success for the ÉCONOMUSÉE model. Visitors rated their experience at the sites very positively, particularly due to components of the model such as the boutiques and welcoming areas. Of the sites that were able to provide data on visitor levels, all saw an increase in visitation post- ÉCONOMUSÉE. Visitor experience was extremely positive and there was high repeat visitation levels at sites. This could be an indicator of potential for increased visitation, particularly due to the current reliance on word of mouth marketing. Although it is unclear to what extent visitors are viewing the education or interpretive elements as core to their experience, as the ÉCONOMUSÉE model becomes more familiar in the region, the recognition and value of the interpretive aspects of the business should increase. A little over half of visitors were from outside the region and stayed overnight, with most staying several nights, generating additional economic opportunity for accommodation providers in the region. The evidence provides justification for investment in the model and support for continuing to expand the model within British Columbia and across Canada.