April 12th, 2024

Tourism Lethbridge national finalist for culinary experience award

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on November 14, 2023.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman CEO Erin Crane is excited that Tourism Lethbridge is a finalist for the Culinary Tourism Experience Award, thanks in part to their Sip, Taste, Explore app.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Tourism Lethbridge has been selected as a finalist for the Culinary Tourism Alliance Culinary Tourism Experience Award, presented by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada as part of the Canadian Tourism Awards for 2023. 

The award celebrates national accomplishments in the Canadian tourism industry, focusing on the positive impacts organizations have made locally and nationally.

CEO of Tourism Lethbridge Eric Crane says they were honoured and excited when they were notified about becoming a finalist.

“That was super exciting because there are a lot of destinations doing really good work in the agri-food tourism space and we’re very young right and a lot of those places have been doing this for years, so to even be in the top three finalists for that award was huge for us, and it shows that we’re doing good work,” said Crane.

She said they put an application in for one of the Culinary Tourism Alliance’s awards based on a year’s worth of work promoting agri-food tourism.

“We’ve done a lot this year, we couldn’t really just pinpoint it into one little area, so what we put forward was the year’s worth of work,” said Crane.

She said they partnered with Tourism Strategies out of Calgary to come into the community and do some capacity building.

“We’ve been hosting workshops about agri-food tourism and how important it is, and how everyone can get involved in it. That was a big piece, and we’ve also been continuing the work on our food tours to get people out and exploring a little bit more around the province.”

 Crane said in addition to that, they launched a digital gamification app called Sip, Taste, Explore where people can check in at participating businesses and collect points in order to win prizes.

 “It has been really good. We’ve got a lot of businesses that are participating in it, and we’ve got a lot of people getting the app. Our goal now is just to get people out and exploring around, which is always hard in the winter because it’s a little colder and roads are a little frostier, but all of these agri-food businesses are open year-round and that was a big part of why we wanted to do this,” said Crane.

She said they have also hosted a few familiarization tours for influencers in media, as well as partnering up with the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone to host the Long Table Dinner among many other events hosted in partnership with local organizations.

Crane said they are doing things that are different from other destinations when it comes to agri-food tourism.

She said they have always tried to avoid the word culinary as it gets people thinking about fine dining, five-course meals and fancy china, but that is not what southern Alberta is all about.

“That’s not really us. Where we excel is taking people out to the field and showing them what a sugar beet looks like when you pull it out of the ground, going out to a farm to see how the cows are raised before their milk is processed into cheese. There’s a whole story there that we get to tell, which is really exciting, and I think distinctly unique amongst the Canadian landscape,” said Crane.

Tourism Lethbridge will find out if they go from finalists to winner during a conference in Ottawa later this month.

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