Travel and Tour World – Wednesday, June 9, 2021
An interpretive rafting trip down the Bow is one of seven new experiences offered in Cochrane this season following the swift action of a local tourism group.
The Cochrane Tourism Association enrolled 10 businesses in its Tourism Product Mentorship Program, a six-month accelerator program that backs business owners in developing new experiences, packages and events to appeal to tourists and put Cochrane on the map as a destination.
“The type of traveller coming to Cochrane, we call them the curious explorer,” said Cochrane Tourism Association executive director Jo-Anne Oucharek. “They’re looking for more hands-on unique experiences, wanting to see the community and culture and the beautiful valley we live in and the outdoor experiences that we have.”
With this in mind, program participants created interpretive rafting tours on the Bow River at Hunter Valley Adventures, weekend getaways at The Crossing at Ghost River, Ladies’ Pamper Packages by Pure Anada, Crystal Cavern Wellness Sessions at Spirit of Oneness, a western branding experience at Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation, artist events at Route 22 Artist Collective and a Cochrane Food Fest scheduled for Aug. 14.
They also developed the Online Explore Cochrane Trip Planner, allowing visitors to plan their own trips with suggested itineraries that showcase hidden gems, adventures and places to discover in the area.
“The program was a great way to look at all different types of tourism assets that could be built,” said Oucharek. “We wanted to have a cross-section of different types of businesses.”
Among them was Hunter Valley Adventures, an adventure-based business that offers rafting, kayaking and canoeing tours on the upper Red Deer River, as well as outdoor experiences ranging from a geocaching escape room to riverside yoga, owned and operated by Shea and Kelly Beaton.
Through the program, the Beatons added a family-friendly interpretative float focusing on the history of the town and land from the vantage point of the Bow River, making it the first experience the business has offered in Cochrane.
“We are super stoked to be able to run something within the town,” said Kelly, who has been operating Hunter Valley Adventures with her husband for seven years.