In the heart of the Redberry Lake Biosphere Region near Saskatoon, a revolutionary tourism program is taking shape - "Experience the Biosphere." This ambitious initiative not only promises to showcase the breathtaking beauty of the region but also introduces a new era of regional tourism designed to foster sustainable economic development for all operators and communities in the region.
Experience the Biosphere allows tourists to create their own 1-to-3-day adventures using one online marketplace sampling art, cuisine, experiences and the unique ecology of Saskatchewan’s only UNESCO designated Biosphere Region. Tour operators will be able to set their own rates, tours and schedules and payments will be automated. The Redberry Lake Biosphere will lead the project, implement a full communications plan and facilitate development of new experiences for prospective operators across the entire region!
A new Interpretive and Research Centre along with rental geodesic domes currently under construction sets stage for a much-needed regional anchor destination that will attract visitors from across the world. Over $900,000 has been raised from PrairiesCan, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Tourism Saskatchewan. By 2026 this project will be valued at over $2 Million.
From Day 1, every facet of the project has been managed through hybrid remote work with Prairie Rising leading development and implementation.
Based in Hafford. the Redberry Lake Biosphere Region knew that in order to bring this vision to life, they would need to attract specific expertise that wasn’t available locally. Using this approach has ensured the project’s ongoing success by creating an efficient work environment with the expertise needed to develop this complex and innovative initiative.
Effective stakeholder and community engagement has also been critical to this project. This has been achieved through ongoing in-person and virtual town halls, online forums, and collaborative platforms. These tools facilitate dialogue, ensuring that stakeholders and the local community are active participants in the decision-making process. Virtual training and support for operators spread over the region is helping build trust and grow the program.
With plans to launch in 2025, Experience the Biosphere will be the first true tourism marketplace designed to diversify and build regional sustainable development. However, it was modelled after the hugely successful and nationally recognized Fogo Island Inn. Located off the coast of NewFoundland. Fogo Island was given a choice after their fisheries collapsed: move to the mainland or… get creative.
Today, visitors from across the world stay in an architecturally unique hotel and choose from dozens of experiences that authentically takes them into the daily life of the fishing community. From an introduction to boat building and jam making to guided fishing trips and nature walks, visitors come to be immersed in a culture unlike the urban life they lead. They can even book a walk with the hotel’s dog. This initiative has been so successful that not only did the community get to stay in their homes, but now three quarters of all residents are employed directly or indirectly by the Fogo Island Inn and its parent company Shorefast.
This type of innovation is also possible in the rural prairies where economic and population decline has gone unchecked for decades. From Birding to western style adventures, global visitors crave authentic experiences such as those we have to offer. Achieving this level of success will only be possible on a regional scale with operators, organizations and communities collaborating virtually and in person.
Leading this project has been a dream come true and I can’t wait to see its lasting impact on the rural communities of the Redberry Lake Biosphere Region.