Friday, 20 April 2012

View of Richmond By Ann Marie Yorke On April 17th, Harvey Sawler, an independent consultant, took center stage as he presented his 24 step plan to revitalize tourism in Richmond County. The proposal looks at the two major areas that draw visitors to the county. First Isle Madame, where he proposed the brand “Isle of 100 Coves”. His direction for the island, which has more coves per mile than any other area in Nova Scotia, would see look-offs being placed strategically around the island, creating a visual and emotional pull for visitors to stop and take in the natural beauty of the island. Sawler also expressed the need to expand upon the presence of La Picasse Cultural Centre to project a more authentic cultural experience, with a higher profile for Acadian craftsmanship and adding a more Acadian atmosphere to their restaurant. Next he spoke on St. Peter’s, for which he picked the brand “Quay to the Inland Sea”. This brand would create appeal for visitors to come and visit the quant village built on the shore of the Bras d’Or Lake. He also envisioned the construction of a new museum complex featuring the work of the renowned marine photographer Wallace MacAskill. This new Wallace MacAskill Museum of the Atlantic would also feature an artisan market and a visitor centre. The building of this museum would also revitalize interest and increase visitor traffic to the site of the St. Peter’s Canal known as the Gateway to the Bras d’Or Lake (Inland Sea). He also saw the importance of Richmond County’s waterways as a safe and viable tourism draw for visitors interested in paddling. Sawler also expressed the potential of the Paddlefest Event as a major draw for the area and one that he felt would continue togrow in popularity, drawing visitors from across the country. Sawler explained that, after meetings with the municipality over the last few weeks, the county realizes the importance of tourism as a driving force for Richmond’s economic development and is willing to partner with industry and tourism associations to achieve market growth. He also explained that for tourism to expand, more emphasis has to be placed on development of product instead of marketing, as visitors will come to see something worthwhile. Sawler specifically mentioned the importance to follow the dynamic example of Destination Cape Breton Association; focusing on research and development of product before marketing, in order to revitalize Cape Breton tourism.

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