Culture & Heritage Focus Group Notes

by / Comments Off on Culture & Heritage Focus Group Notes / 188 View / June 3, 2016


Albert Arsenault, Evangeline Tourism
Martin Marcoux, Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce
Kevin Rice, Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum
Dr. David Keenlyside, PEI. Museum and Heritage Foundation
Mark Derry, Manager, Cultural Affairs, Province of PEI
Mary Kendrick, Experience PEI
Jamie Thomas, Lennox Island First Nation
Jenene Woolridge, Abegweit First Nation
David Panton, Community Museums Association of PEI
Judy MacDonald, PEI Arts and Heritage Trail
Katy Baker, Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI
Leslie Caseley, Community Museums Association of PEI

  • Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.  Never before have people had the opportunity to travel as much or been engaged in the discovery of other cultures. Culture and Heritage are prime motivators for travel.  In 2012, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization the international arrivals were over 1 billion; cultural tourism accounting for 40% of global tourism.
  • Prince Edward Island has an opportunity to develop and market culture and heritage tourism while conserving, preserving and managing our cultural and heritage resources.

Here are some of the comments from our participants:

  • Vision and Leadership will play an important role on how these important resources are developed, managed and promoted.
  • We need to define who is included in the province’s cultural heritage infrastructure; how culture is defined;
  • Who will invest in the sector?
  • Should Tourism play a stronger role in promoting heritage?  (yes) advertising is costly and budgets low.
  • Is there a more overt way of expressing heritage as part of the Island brand?
  • In the Burnett/Thorne study, our Heritage was described as PEI’s richest asset.
  • Signage/way find appears to be a perennial problem for heritage/museum site.
  • How does the Tourism Strategic Plan fit with the proposed (to be developed) 10  year Provincial Cultural Strategy?
  • The sector needs strong leadership and collaborative effort within the sector.  This has worked well in the past and it is important to bring resources together.
  • It is important that the culture and heritage sector be resourced and facilitated in order to undertake packaging, the development of programs, events, and exhibitions.
  • It is our experience that things take 2 – 3 years minimum.
  • There have been successful collaborations with museums, archives, art galleries, visual artists, designers, publishers, academics, historians, translators, educators, students and so collaboration is very key to program development in a public art gallery.
  • Authentic visitor experiences are key to presenting art in a program shaped by artistic excellence.
  •  Presenting the works and ideas of historic, modern or contemporary artists and contemporary curators in a digital age allows a range of authentic works of art to be experienced.
  • We tend to see a balance in our programs, understanding our summer audience is mostly made up of visitors to PEI.  We also understand that there is an audience for contemporary art but we really don’t seem to be able to find budgets to market or promote our programs (even as they clearly respond to issues of the day as well as history in analogue and digital media  are important attractions).  Seeing the original object in a museum is all about authenticity, experience, learning and it can be educational, entertaining, challenging and conceptually driven – but that is what galleries and museums are about.
  • Access and removal of barriers to growth….Physical and intellectual accessibility to Canadian
  • Art is central to our operation of a public art museum.  Growth is not necessarily our focus, rather sustainability is more of a concern.
  • Focused marketing by the industry often overlooks our program offerings and in large cultural sectors there are opportunities for cross promotion but there are risks that the ticketed products can warrant the marketing budgets so interest from the sector could be beneficial.
  •  There could be stronger communication between tourism and heritage.
  • A definition of who is included in a the conversation around culture is important
  • More support for marketing of culture/heritage operations.
  • Culture (which includes heritage) could provide authentic visitor experiences that focus on both tangible (museum exhibits, art galleries, etc.) and intangible (traditional skills, oral traditions, social practices) to give a memorable tourism experience.  Culture can target the values of visitors such as Cultural sensitivity and environmental stability.
  •  Millennials who are highly connected, globally conscious and open to trying new products are shaping the new wave of tourism.  This generation usually doesn’t have a lot of vacation so they are looking for authentic experiences. They are saturated by technology and are craving the “real” rather than the material.  They want to feel a connection to the pat that heritage can give them.
  • A focus on @Welcome Home” tourism fits well with a culture/heritage focus.  Islanders who have moved away or people whose ancestors immigrated to PEI but have since moved elsewhere. We can give them a look at what drew their ancestors here and what their lives were like. Again it is about feeling a connection to your families past. Example:  My parents went to Ireland the year that Ireland focused on welcoming home ancestors of families who had immigrated. Genealogy and heritage sites were key aspects of their travel.  We are planning a family trip in a few years to see the village they found where our ancestors were from.
  • Atlantic Canadian First Nations’ business and services are valued at over $1 Billion annually.
  • Aboriginal people are the fastest growing demographic in Canada.  In addition to this, most Government departments have Aboriginal specific funding available.
  • “Once accumulated, the study found that aggregate indigenous band, community, organization and business spending, as well as net household spending have a total impact of $1,144 billion.  The Indigenous economy creates 16.7333 full time equivalent positions in employment and contributes $184.5 million.  Total Tax Revenues ($73.2 million Federal taxes, $92.7 million in Provincial taxes) and generates $710.9 million in household income in Atlantic Canada.” – John G. Paul, APC.

Leadership, Vision and Defined Growth through Partnerships and Collaboration

  • Partner with Province on initiatives
  • Aboriginal Awareness Campaign
  • PEI Aboriginal Business Directory
  • Promote PEI Aboriginal entrepreneurs
  • Increase Aboriginal experiences in PEI
  • Grow partner support
  • Build Aboriginal capacity:  customer service training, tourism industry knowledge and support
  • Work with the Province to increase number of regional and national Aboriginal meetings and events in PEI.
  • Develop Aboriginal Tourism Strategy for PEI
  • Grow jobs:  Build capacity in our members around Aboriginal tourism

Authentic Visitor Experiences that Support demand Generators

  • Promote businesses in Abegweit First Nation
  • Develop products and services
  • Increase signage and marketing
  • Increase revenue
  • Epekwitk Gardens & Preserves
  • Epekwitk Gas Bar
  • Redstone Truck and Marine
  • Abegweit Biodiversity and Enhancement Hatchery
  • Promote Abegweit First Nation Events
  • Annual Mawiomi June 11 & 12, Scotchfort PE
  • National Aboriginal Day Celebration June 21, Scotchfort, PE
  • Treaty Day celebrations October 1

Access and the Removal of Barrier to Growth

  • Support for PEI Aboriginal Entrepreneurs
  • PEI Aboriginal Business Network, marketing support, tourism industry knowledge
  • Focused Marketing by Industry
  • Increase Aboriginal Marketing for PEI Visitor Experiences
  • Increase connections between Meetings and Conventions PEI with Regional and National Aboriginal groups
  • Aboriginal Cultural tourism as pillar in the Tourism priorities of PEI.

Comments from a member of the Acadian community who was unable to be at the meeting on June 2, 2016.

  • There will be a meeting for the Francophone operators in Village Abram on Monday, June 20, 2016. The meeting provides us with a unique opportunity to impress upon the consultants the importance
  • that our culture, our music, our food and our history have in the province and how these elements can play their role in attracting visitors to our island.  PEI is looking for ways to extend its tourist season and that one of the ways to is to promote Prince Edward Island as a Cultural Destination.
  • The changing demography of our clientele supports this premise.  Swimming at a beach or playing golf is not what the current and future visitor is seeking and promoting these elements at the expense  of  our cultural themes will not have the impact that is needed.  This province has a cultural  richness that is evident in the many community museums that are scattered across the Island.  They, as well as other organizations, can play a huge role in providing information on the wealth and the diversity of the cultural heritage that PEI possesses.
  • Visitors are actively seeking information on the history of our communities, their way of life and their impact on today’s society. Tourism operators who understand this are well positioned to meet visitor needs and should be supported by provincial strategic marketing initiatives.
  • We should use this occasion to stress the importance of investing in our cultural elements which would include our museums, our music and our food.  For the Acadian community the promotion of the Acadian tourism product is definitely the angle we will table in order to impress upon these consultants the strategic importance of this product within the tourism offer of the province.
  • Music has its place, but the authenticity of this product is so much more.  Our history, our food, our traditions and our language all contribute to the richness of the product and all of these elements need to be highlighted.
  • Having said that, the advancement of a cultural destination for PEI cannot be envisioned without a greater investment in our museums who are in many ways the entry point to the many communities of PEI.

Comments from an experiential provider –

Leadership. Vision, and defined growth through partnerships and collaboration.

  • Leadership should come from the industry and drive partnerships rather than being viewed as competitors.  Collaboration in tourism brings us all a piece of the pie.  The provincial government should use the expertise of the industry for assistance in training and mentoring new businesses and new startups.  Mentorship program by those who have already succeeded can help new startups from potential financial and staffing problems.  Regional Tourism Associations could identify all expertise in their areas and government through ACA/Provincial could assist in funding these programs.  There is definitely a need for the First Nations to be involved in the creation of product for Tourism.

Authentic Visitor Experiences that Support Demand Generators

  • As an experiential provider most areas of the industry like history, farming, museums, restaurants,
  • culinary can have the opportunity move into Tourism.  Tourists are interested in being connected to the people of our Island. They are eager to experience first-hand a lobster fisher, clammer, chef, artist, heritage, farmer, etc. do for a living and how they do it. Most of our industries falls under the demand generators, but most of these industries have to be shown how they can work with Tourism.  Experiential Tourism is a major part of what ACOA is funding but since inception – What has been created and funded …. This needs to be answered.  The answer might allow the industry understand how we have been doing in the development of Experiential product and whether a mentorship program would be useful.

Access and the Removal of Barriers to Growth

  • Access to dollars to assist the youth in buying existing businesses would be very helpful.  The Tourism owner is aging and wants to sell their operation and retire.  The children of operators who wish to return to PEI and take over their parents’ business do not have the capital to do so. The business then sells to whoever has the dollars and no history and knowledge remains and should.
  • The Province and ACOA should create an opportunity/program that can assist with a succession plan and the financial support to buy into the business over a longer period of time.  Could Skills PEI be involved?
  • Our business uses retire people as our guides and this should be encouraged as a work force opportunity as they have local knowledge, enjoy speaking to people and are more flexible with hours and schedule.

Focused Marketing by Industry

  • We know that the marketing dollars are getting smaller every year so are the Co-op dollars.  Co-op opportunities are important to the smaller business who don’t have corporate names behind them.  Marketing dollars should be increased for the industry and smaller businesses should be allowed to buy in at a lower level in groups for one page in the Tourism guide.
  • Prince Edward Island is very close to New York, Boston, Portland but we aren’t tapping these areas which could be one flight away if air service was available Halifax or Charlottetown. We all wish we had the dollars to do a Newfoundland promotional campaign and we have to get more of the Island beauty out to high traffic areas … other parts f Canada as well as Southern USA and New England.