Racking your brain to make summer leisurely plans in the COVID-19 world?

When one door closes, another opens. Fortunately, we have the Cochrane Tourism Association and its vibrant group of partners to guide us to that door.

Since launching its ambition 2018-2023 strategy, the destination marketing organization has been building partnerships, developing best practices, and cataloging a wealth of media resources to capture that unique Cochrane feeling.

It's no different during National Tourism Week. It has launched three new videos this week to provide people a glimpse of the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, Studio West Bronze Foundry & U Art Gallery, and Mackay’s Ice Cream.

Championing what lies in our own backyard is nothing new for the organization.

“We have been telling Cochrane’s story and showcasing the destination brand through an online travel journal for nearly two years,” says executive director Jo-Anne Oucharek.

Last June they took it a step further by holding an Explore Cochrane weekend to showcase a number of existing and possible future activities. That was complemented by a number of tours.

It was an opportunity to giving those experiences to Cochranites at a discounted rate. They, in turn, would share them when family and friends visit, in addition to spreading the word through their social media.

For Cochrane Tourism, COVID-19 is a change in gear, not a derailment. It has pivoted to collaborate with the town and chamber of commerce to promote local shopping, and serve as a member of the economic recovery task force.

"We're working with the chamber and the town to really listen to the business community and help them any way that we can."

"The tourism industry has been the hardest hit, and they are unfortunately are the ones that can't apply for anything," she says. "They don't qualify for any of the funds that are out there."

Recently part of a call with federal economic development minister Mélanie Joly, Oucharek says there will be a nationwide push for Canadians to stay closer to home this summer.

"That's where I think Cochrane has positioned itself to showcase what we have. This might be the opportunity, if the residents are comfortable with it, to have people come to enjoy our backyard."

Understanding that the comfort level is important.

"Our business relies on some of that regional economy, like Calgary and Canmore. It's just a matter of how comfortable everybody is with the traffic coming back, and how can we balance that so everybody is in a win-win situation."

In the meantime, she believes people are pleased to see some popular destinations reopen, like the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary and Boundary Ranch.

"Being outside in the mountains and to be able to visit the wolfdogs again I think is going to be a big thing for a lot of people."

Like all other Canadian provinces, Alberta is reinforcing their staycation campaigns to let people know there are plenty of adventures to be had. 

Earlier this week, Travel Alberta's reveal its summer marketing campaign, "Worth the Wait."