The canyons, hoodoos, dinosaur bones, and dry coulees of Alberta’s Badlands will soon be the centre of a new campaign to attract more tourists to the unique region.
Travel Alberta and marketing group Canadian Badlands Ltd (CBL), have been developing the campaign since 2006 and are now ready to start marketing the “Wild West”—90,000 square kilometres throughout southeastern Alberta—in hopes of making it an iconic travel destination.
“We have a lot of unique things that you don’t find in the rest of the world,” says Doug Jones, former mayor of Oyen and one of the project’s main contributors.
“People don’t know what is here, and I think that’s our story that we have to tell.”
Along with popular attractions such as the area’s world-famous dinosaur museums, the campaign aims to bring attention to other intriguing features such as its river-valley badlands and rock formations, open skies, and aboriginal history.
Attractions such as the ancient Blackfoot wall carvings near Medicine Hat, hiking through the high prairie plateaus of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, and underground tours at the historic mining museum near East Coulee are just a few of the experiences to be had in the Badlands, according to the Travel Alberta website.
Jones says tourism in the area has not reached its potential because it has never been consistently marketed. Now, the region’s 62 municipalities and the province are working together to “deliver the same message.”
“It’s a really collaborative effort, and it’s part of the strategy that we had set out a few years ago to do it this way. So we’re very pleased at the way things are progressing,” he says.
The Canadian Tourism Commission, Travel Alberta, and local district marketing organizations will promote the campaign to Alberta’s surrounding provinces such as B.C., Saskatchewan, and Montana, as well as internationally.
Jones says the aim is not to draw people away from the province’s popular destinations like Banff and the Rocky Mountains, but to encourage tourists to add the Badlands to their itinerary.
“Our whole thing is if they’re going to the Rockies and they’re going to spend a couple of extra days, well, we’ve got some different things we can show you,” he says.
Although the campaign is not directed at a specific age group or demographic, Jones says it’s ideal for families because of its multi-generational appeal.
“If you want to do kayaking and things like that, or horseback riding, or you want to go out and look at the agriculture, how you’re getting all those foods produced—we’re in that breadbasket with all the different types of stuff in our area,” he says.
“We will have more opportunities for families to do those experiential things together.”
“We have a lot of history,” he adds. “People nowadays want to find more about their roots and all these type of things. So I think we really lend to that, the heritage part.”
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