By Kalinowski, Tim on February 22, 2020.
City council’s decision last week to withdraw its membership from the Canadian Badlands tourism organization allows even greater space for developing a Lethbridge-centred tourism identity and brand, says Tourism Lethbridge executive director William Slenders.
“The Canadian Badlands brand is certainly well recognized, but is the City of Lethbridge part of the Canadian Badlands like the iconic Canadian Badlands destinations like Drumheller or Medicine Hat that are being recognized?” he asks, implying the answer is “No.” “So brand recognition only goes so far. One of our key priorities within Lethbridge is to continue enhance Lethbridge’s brand development. Because, for the most part, Lethbridge’s brand development has been fairly weak over the last couple years. We are looking to actively strengthen it.”
Slenders says ultimately what that emerging tourism brand incorporates must be a reflection of what makes Lethbridge unique and special in its own right; not just as part of a regional identity or conglomerate.
“If you continue to focus on the hoodoos (in Dinosaur Provincial Park), it becomes really hard to win the hearts and minds of the people outside of those areas,” he says. “Economic Lethbridge has done a fantastic job on really building that Brighter Together brand. We’re currently working on new branding techniques to get a better sense and feel of that, but the one thing that continues to resonate inside of this community more than anything else is there is a spirit of non-traditional Alberta. The reason for that is, when you look at this community compared to everything else, there is very limited engagement with oil and gas. Lethbridge has kind of evolved differently to other Alberta communities.”
Slenders says regional co-operation will continue to be a focus of Tourism Lethbridge even after council’s decision to withdraw the City’s membership from the Canadian Badlands, but it never has been a central focus.
“It’s not to say the regional focus isn’t encouraged, but Lethbridge requires stronger product development internally,” he says. “And, I think, with the current direction of the Destination Management Plan, we’re better situated to develop stronger internal development. The decision to withdraw from the Canadian Badlands organization won’t have any impact on the Destination Management Plan.”
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