Larry Peach in the museum section of Rendez-vous de la Baie in Church Point.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
The tourism industry in Clare is looking ahead to the 2014 season and is working on ways to try to ensure people have plenty to do and that they have a positive experience when visiting the region.
For Larry Peach, the Municipality of Clare’s tourism director, the key word with regard to preparation for next year is partnerships.
“We’re in the middle, between Digby and Yarmouth, and it’s exciting to see the return of the (Yarmouth) ferry scheduled for May,” Peach said. “We have visitors coming in from both directions and from other points in the province, so it’s essential that we partner with stakeholders in communities on both sides.”
As part of Yarmouth and Acadian Shores, Clare is involved in various initiatives related to YASTA and, as an example of what’s happening on the Digby side, Peach says Clare is glad to be affiliated with Digby’s Wharf Rat Rally through a poker run that brings rally participants to the Clare area.
“We’re looking to get more local businesses involved and more sponsors,” Peach said, referring to the poker run.
Among other things, Clare also hopes to explore more package opportunities with Digby Pines, he said.
Interviewed in his office at Rendez-vous de la Baie in Church Point, where he is manager, Peach said Clare also would like to build on a pilot project it had in the Digby area whereby people were bused down to Clare for an Acadian experiential visit. “I think we’re going to try and tweak it by working more with the local community here and having this tour as an option for visitors who are staying in Clare as well,” Peach said.
Describing the 2013 tourism season in Clare as “kind of a stable year” compared to 2012, Peach said they want to find new niche markets.
Peach notes that Rendez-vous de la Baie is involved in a variety of projects that are planned for 2014, including Musique de la Baie, a guided lantern tour and a series of art workshops.
Rendez-vous also will be partnering with Université Sainte-Anne in the development of a local trail, he said. The plan is to have an interpretive trail with guided and self-guided elements to it.
“We have this gem in our backyard,” Peach said of the trail. “It’s to everyone’s benefit to kind of enhance that and just share it with the community, share it with visitors. In a sense, we’re creating a new attraction and another reason to come back to the centre, so that’s exciting.”
Another initiative in the works, he said, is to feature more historical photos of the local area, to “share the wealth of photography that’s available.”
Rendez-vous de la Baie also is partnering with La Fédération Régionale des arts et du patrimoine (FRAP) de la Baie Sainte-Marie on what is billed as the Festival de Clare-té. Building on an event that was held last year, organizers are planning a four-day festival for March 20-23. A FRAP news release describes the festival as a “celebration of the arts and heritage with fun and interesting activities for everyone.” A detailed program is still to come.
“We’re just starting to plan for that,” Peach said, “but it’s nice to see a new local event that’s kind of going to get the ball rolling as we go into the summer season.”
There are various other tourism-oriented things that may see further development, Peach citing a clam-digging experience in Belliveau’s Cove and an Acadian “passport” tour that links eight major Acadian attractions from Annapolis Royal to West Pubnico.
Referring to the work involved in getting ready for the tourism season, Peach said, “There’s always something to do.”