The economic slow down of the oil and gas industry can be noticed everywhere in the Foothills communities, from the farms and ranches that cannot count on secondary income from the oil patch, to slower business in restaurants and hotels, stagnating or declining real estate and an increase in rural crime. As a regional community we are blessed with other assets that can drive economic development.
Foothills is ideally located to develop a stable tourism industry for several reasons:
Proximity to the Calgary International airport.
Proximity to Banff.
Proximity to Calgary.
Rich historic, natural, and agricultural assets.
Foothills is a densely experience-packed region with huge cultural heritage and teeming with vibrant arts, sustainable agriculture, distillers, brewers and wineries and magnificent natural scenery. Yet today, unknown to Canada and the world. The Foothills Tourism Association wants to leverage the amazing agricultural, historical and natural assets the Foothills region has to attract visitors and buyers regionally, nationally and globally to drive economic growth and job creation in the Foothills communities.
Research and literature has identified a category of tourism that is interested in culture, history, food, alcohol, agri-tourism and outdoor recreation. This tourist is most of the time more affluent than the general tourist, visits a region by car, and is interested in experience and educational activities as well as in food culture. This is the tourist we will focus on attracting to the region.
Economic development through tourism not only benefits tourism businesses, but the benefits ripple through to the entire economic and social fabric of the region. Communities with a healthy tourism industry also boast a large amount of trades people (since they are needed to maintain and develop those tourism facilities). Also, a study from Germany has established a link between unemployment and crime, especially in low density populations with a low history of crime. Therefore, creating employment should be an important strategy to combat rural crime.
Foothills is in a unique position to chart its own economic development future by focusing to attract the affluent and independent tourist with an interest in agri-tourism, culture, history and outdoor recreation.