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Tourism Lethbridge’s thoughts on winning the 2023 Culinary Tourism Award

Posted on December 24, 2023 by admin

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Back in November 2023, Tourism Lethbridge won the 2023 Culinary Tourism Experience Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada after first being named a finalist.

“Any time that we can put Lethbridge on especially a national stage, that’s really exciting because we often don’t get what I believe is the recognition that we deserve,” said Erin Crane, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Lethbridge. “We are influencers, especially in the global, a AgriFood ecosystem. And we play a big role in that. And anytime we can make that center stage and give our producers and our processors and the farmers in our area a little bit more highlight about what they do and how we help feed the world, I think that’s a good thing.”

Crane says that Tourism Lethbridge originally became involved with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada Awards after being anonmously nominated and they reached out to explain to Tourism Lethbridge that they were nominated. In response to being nominated, Crane says, Tourism Lethbridge filled out the additional information, submitted it, and were later told that they were a finalist, which was something they celebrated.

“So they asked us to share all of the information that we had done around culinary tourism, you know, throughout the year,” said Crane. “And we submitted all of the initiatives that we’ve been working on. Many of them involve our partners around Lethbridge County. So we had done a lot of the tour work, creating an AgriFood tourism self-guided driving tour. We’ve also been doing some workshops around AgriFood tourism cluster development in preparation for Open Farm Days and encouraging more of our partners to get involved in Open Farm Fays. We also launched a digital application called Sip, Taste, Explore, and it’s a Southern Alberta Agri Venture.”

Sip, Taste, Explore, Crane says, starts in Lethbridge and takes people all over the region. There’s a digital map, Crane says, that helps people to find the culinary hotspots all over the region.

“We encourage people to come down and stay the night,” said Crane. “We’ve promoted restaurants like Italian Table that do a really good job of using locally sourced food on their venue. But then the driving tour encourages people to head out to Broxburn Vegetables and, you know, visit the Great House and see how their food has grown. Then, we head over to Coaldale and up the 845 to our partners over at Prairie Hill. That is the half cap processing facility and they have a fantastic retail market that sells all kinds of locally produced food. We’ve talked about having lunch at Picture Butte at Cattlemen’s Chop House where you get a fantastic menu of locally sourced items and some of the best Alberta beef in the province. And then of course, our partners at Crystal Spring Cheese and Broke Pork and then finishing off the day at Little Gem Winery and then heading back into Lethbridge for another fantastic evening meal, staying the night before you head back home.”

Besides the Culinary Tourism Award, Crane says that Tourism Lethbridge also won two other awards in 2023: they won the NYX award and a Telly Award for a a new Virtual Reality (VR) video highlighting sports facilities in Lethbridge created by Lethbridge local Eduardo Limon of Winged Whale Media. Both of the awards, Crane says, were for Sport Tourism.

“We are always looking to promote sport tourism development in the city,” said Crane. “We work really closely with the Lethbridge Sport Council on that. And then of course, AgriFood Tourism will always be a staple of everything that we do. So we look forward to growing it more, no pun intended, but we do look to grow it more and highlight more of the amazing, processors and producers that we have in the area because it’s really their work that makes us so special and that we believe the rest of Canada is going to be really interested in learning about.”

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