By Annique Maheu and Svenja Hansen

This spring, Pukaskwa National Park hosted a meeting of staff, stakeholders and partners to begin development of a Visitor Experience Site Strategy. The overarching goal of the strategy is to create unforgettable experiences for visitors, who then leave the park with meaningful, long-lasting memories and a deeper understanding of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage.

The Visitor Experience Site Strategy consists of nine steps:

  1. Setting Goals – What would success look like in five years? What changes can we reasonably make? 
  2. Define the essence of Pukaskwa as a tourism destination – What makes it unique? Why should people visit? 
  3. Identifying key target markets – Who are the people we need to reach to meet our goals? Where do they live? What are their needs, desires, values, interests, and abilities? 
  4. Visitor Experience Assessment – Analyse our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from the point of view of our target markets. 
  5. Describe our vision – In a perfect future, what are our target market visitors experiencing? How does it meet their needs and desires, as well as our goals? 
  6. Create a product plan – Evaluate current offer (interpretation, recreation, facilities) against needs and desires of target market visitors. Identify modifications or new products that need to be made. 
  7. Develop a promotional plan – How will we reach out to our target markets, compelling them to visit? 
  8. Conduct an operational analysis – What are the realities that influence how we move forward, e.g. seasonality, geography, finances? 
  9. Prepare an action plan – Identify a series of concrete tasks to ensure we achieve our goals.

We hope to finish all steps and have a completed strategy for Pukaskwa in place by the end of this calendar year. The spring workshop only touched on steps 2 to 4 of the strategy, and thanks to participation from external stakeholders and partners we gained valuable insight into Pukaskwa’s fit within the greater tourism scene of Northern Ontario.

Nicole Dupuis, Interpretation Officer/Coordinator at Pukaskwa National Park shared the following:

“What was great about the workshop was hearing everyone’s different perspectives on the essence of Pukaskwa. We had people from different departments in Pukaskwa, different partners, people new to the park and people who grew up with Pukaskwa dear to their hearts. The workshop showed me Pukaskwa means a great deal to many people and that people connect to the park in different ways. As somebody new to Parks Canada, it was important to hear these varying viewpoints, because it paints a more complete picture of Pukaskwa National Park.”

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Workshop participants
Workshop participants © Parks Canada