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Cowboy Culture Comes Home: Diversification in the Badlands

Travel Alberta and the Experience Development team promotes partnership and diversification for Alberta tourism businesses and prepares them to get their experiences ready to sell through the international travel trade. The guest ranch experience is one of the top five that travellers want from Alberta, and this is reflected in how the province’s guest ranches are already at full capacity without reaching out to the travel trade to sell their experiences. An opportunity arose for Travel Alberta to help develop a new guest ranch experience that could be sold in regional and international markets, and built into itineraries sold by receptive tour operators (RTOs).

The Experience Development team had met with the Hern family, cattle ranchers located on a ranch east of Dinosaur Provincial Park. The family was looking for opportunities to diversify their revenue outside of cattle and energy. After consultations with the team, they quickly realized that their Bar Diamond Ranch had lots to offer travellers. They also began to see opportunities to incorporate elements of the local heritage and contemporary prairie lifestyle into their guest ranch experience.

Local Communities Enhance the Guest Ranch Experience

Once the idea took hold, just like their prairie predecessors, the Herns saw an opportunity to build on the foundation of a great community. The dream was to create export-ready packages that would encapsulate the Albertan guest ranch experience with links to local communities. The result is a truly Albertan guest ranch experience in the heart of Canadian Badlands that acts as a model for collaboration in rural tourism.

The Bar Diamond Guest Ranch’s export-ready, four-night package includes a local community tour, interpretive tour of an aboriginal site, jet boat tour, and optional horseback riding. The local community tour was the brainchild of Carol Hern, and is an example of how to enhance the visitor experience. The tour visits the communities of Acadia Valley, Oyen and Empress – communities that may not usually see many international visitors – distributing the economic impact to the Hern’s friends and neighbours, and exemplifying the value of partnership in tourism. In the words of the Hern family, it’s a way to “spread the love” to local communities and “showcase our home and really take the time to show people what there is to do.” This unique partnership also makes Bar Diamond Guest Ranch an anchor experience for the badlands.

Experience a Great Fit for New Southern Alberta Itinerary

Just 1.5 hours east of Dinosaur Provincial Park and 1.5 hours north of Medicine Hat, Bar Diamond Guest Ranch fits well into the newly developed and published Travel Alberta itinerary for southern Alberta and as a linchpin for southern experiences. Surrounded by activities related to the growing popularity of Dinosaur Provincial Park internationally, the tours provide opportunities for people to experience the diversity of features in Alberta, relax and meet the locals.

“It really gives something to people. You can tell that throughout history people have found this to be a special place,” says Hern. The aboriginal interpretive tour is a prime example; with evidence of two medicine wheels it is clear that the wide open spaces of Bar Diamond have inspired people for many years.

The Hern family is excited for the future now that their experience has been published in the 2017-2018 travel trade tariffs. They have also been successful candidates in the Canada’s West Marketplace (CWM) Scholarship program and will be attending CWM in Jasper this year to convert awareness into sales for their dream guest ranch experience.

Learn more about selling internationally on Travel Alberta's industry website.


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