Edmonton, AB – Rural Alberta Development Fund Board of Directors approved $1.1 million in funding towards creating an experiential ecotourism experience in Alberta’s Willmore Wilderness Park, located southwest of Grande Cache. Through the Willmore Wilderness Preservation and Historical Foundation, the Engaging Traditions for Economic Growth initiative will enhance the marketability and profile of the park, bringing in tourists and creating economic opportunities for the traditional businesses – guiding, outfitting and backcountry lodges – operating in and adjacent to the 4,600 sqaure kilometre wilderness area.
“Developing a regional identity for Willmore Wilderness Park will shine a light on one of Alberta’s best kept secrets,” said the Honourable Evan Berger, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Unlike many parks in Alberta, this park is untouched with no motorized access within the park, offering a completely different perspective and experience for visitors who want to immerse themselves in the traditions of historic wilderness culture.”
Focusing on transitioning traditional businesses into the global economy, this project will build on the region’s unique story, history, traditions and natural resources creating a marketable regional brand. Through multimedia productions, including HDTV documentaries, training videos and social media development, the story of Willmore Wilderness Park will act as a marketing strategy for the region’s tourism industry. The project also centres on training youth in the historic traditions of the mountain way of life, keeping the unique culture alive while creating economic opportunities at the same time.
“By educating and mentoring youth in traditional businesses, the Engaging Traditions for Economic Growth project will provide meaningful employment throughout the Willmore Wilderness Park area,” said Marie Logan, Chair of the Board of Directors, Rural Alberta Development Fund. “Building capacity at the local level will increase skill development, expand economic growth and ultimately increase quality of life for those within the region.”
As a steward of Willmore Wilderness Park, the Willmore Wilderness Preservation and Historical Foundation has formed strong partnerships with local municipalities, communities, organizations and tourism operators in and around the park. With a shared vision, these partners will work towards marketing the region, creating a regional brand, developing new ecotourism products and experiences as well as training youth in the mountain way of life. The North Eastern Slopes Steering Committee will guide and make recommendations for the development of the tourism products.
Funding from the Rural Alberta Development Fund will go towards staffing, training, marketing and promotional materials, film production and administration costs. The project’s anticipated completion date is December 2013.
Rural Alberta Development Fund is a not-for-profit company that inspires innovation, collaboration and growth across rural Alberta. In 2007, it was capitalized with $100 million by the Government of Alberta as part of its Rural Development Strategy. So far, $94.5 million has been committed to 80 projects. The remaining funds will be committed by March 31, 2012. Expressions of Interest are no longer being accepted.
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For more information, contact:
Communications & Program Coordinator
Rural Alberta Development Fund
Willmore Wilderness Foundation