Travel Alberta

Tourism industry explores idea of concerts with iconic Canadians

It’s hard to beat the combination of a dramatic landscape and some soul-stirring music. That’s what members of Canadian Badlands Tourism aim to create this summer with a concert series featuring Canadian musical icons. The region wants to use its iconic coulees, hoodoos and valleys to act as dramatic backdrops to the sounds of popular musicians.

It’s an idea that worked extraordinarily well for a rural region in southern Ontario in the summer of 2013. Norfolk County, a tobacco-growing area, became the only Canadian stop for Mumford & Sons, the award-winning folk/rock band from the U.K., through the efforts of the local community. The concert created a “tremendous infusion” into a region that is intent on diversifying its economy and tourist offerings, says Dennis Travale, mayor of Norfolk County.

Travale is one of the keynote speakers at the Canadian Badlands Tourism Development Conference and AGM, March 25-27. He’ll talk about the success of the concert during the two-day Norfolk County Music Festival and how it attracted thousands of people daily. The event was part of a $15-million transformation to modernize the “tobacco belt” region of Southern Ontario.

“We’re bringing Travale in to find out how the heck he did that,” said Cindy Amos, executive leadership for the Canadian Badlands Tourism. 

Travale will also talk about the leadership needed to take a rural, agricultural, oil and gas region, like the Badlands, and turn it into a thriving tourism destination. What better way than to invite legendary music acts to a region that is famed for its history, culture, rural hospitality and natural beauty? This idea fits nicely with the aspirations of the Canadian Badlands Tourism, which represents 63 municipal government stakeholders in southeastern Alberta. The goal is to grow the number of visits to the region from 4.2 million and $552 million in spending in 2011, said Amos.  

“We’re concentrating on investment development and event development,” Amos said. 

Participants are encouraged to book accommodations soon; conference room rate booking must be made by Feb. 26, and registrations are ahead of this point last year.  For more information please visit

Other keynote speakers at the conference also fit with the region’s future plans. W. Brett Wilson is a well-known Calgary businessman and philanthropist who is originally from the small community of North Battleford, Sask. His illustrious career included a stint as a panel member on the popular CBC television series Dragon’s Den until 2011. He is often referred to as a “capitalist with a heart,” and holds a lengthy list of awards and honours. Anthony Cobb is a visionary with a love of art and design, who has melded his social and economic acumen to propel the small and remote East Coast community of Fogo Island, off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, into a geo-tourism destination. This success story will inspire any rural businessperson.      

Canadian Badlands Tourism is the largest municipal partnership in Canada. Incorporated with 63 municipal government shareholders throughout south-eastern Alberta, Canadian Badlands Tourism is dedicated to building and growing a thriving rural tourism destination by working collaboratively with municipalities, tourism operators and the Government of Alberta.  In 2011, more than 4.2 million people visited the Canadian Badlands and spent $552 million in the region. For more information, please visit

Canadian Badlands Ltd.