Fishing & Camping Tours
The rise of glamping and guided excursions, alongside the rise of self-developed expertise and the extension of local knowledge networks via the internet combine to create an interesting opportunity for the region.
Through guided fishing trips and/or camping trips, the unique history, landscape, and ecosystems of the area can be introduced to a new group of visitors while attracting more who would not ordinarily choose the area to holiday. For those who have experience either in the technical side of fishing or have an intimate knowledge of the area, sophisticated and advanced lessons and tours can be provided.
The region is known for its spectacular fishing and camping opportunities, as well as the local culture around those activities. There is a prime chance to connect these activities as being essential to the regional experience.
Camping tours as a broad base offer the chance for entry at various levels for individuals and businesses. Larger companies can build on existing product relationships with clients and visitors (such as a camping equipment shop), and expand their offerings to include guided hikes and nature tours.
Beginner campers can have the option of meeting with a guide and learning how to set up a campsite. Another option could have the guide transport the gear to the campsites, set up the tents, and create a meal to welcome the visitors.
This side can include private fishing instruction as well as insider tips for the more advanced. Various types of fishing gear and styles can be prioritized or provided as a menu of options beforehand. Fishing boats can be provided to customers for the tours.
For the more independent participants, arrangements can be made to meet a fishing expert at a campsite. The participants hike and establish their own campsite, then partner with the fishing expert. For those groups that want to maintain a sense of privacy or an increased sense of adventure, printed maps and guides, including wildlife-spotting cards for example, can be provided along with gear as a package experience.
At every price point, trips can include themes such as wildlife photography, bird-watching, fossil-bed examination and paleontological history, or even just simple geography and geology.
Food can be integrated at basic levels of picnic supplies all the way up to fully-local, gourmet meals sourced from the region. Gear can be expanded to include binoculars, telescopes, and cameras.
All styles of fishing/camping trips can include educational versions, which highlight themes such as sustainability or appreciation and understanding of the region’s natural resources. There is an opportunity to work with local First Nations to develop educational materials that teach about the original relationship with the land and ecosystems that were in practice before the arrival of colonists. Tours can even be operated with parts of the proceeds going to charitable organizations or initiatives.
The fishing and camping tours will be operated at existing sites in the region. Likely fishing locations are: Lake Newell, San Francisco Lake, Crawling Valley Reservoir, Brooks Aqueduct Pond, Cowoki Lake, Rolling Hills Reservoir, Scots Lake, and the Red Deer River.
The fishing locations in the County of Newell are located in Zone 2 of Alberta’s sportfishing regulations. This zone consists approximately of the southeastern quarter of the province, east of Highway 2 from the Montana border to the North Saskatchewan River.
Four major rivers that start in the mountains flow through the Parkland-Prairie Zone 2. For most of the summer, these rivers are large, silty and warm. Shallow lakes and reservoirs are also found in the Parkland-Prairie. The most common game fish of the zone are yellow perch, northern pike and lake whitefish, although walleye have been introduced into several reservoirs. Rainbow trout are stocked into many ponds and small reservoirs throughout the Parkland-Prairie.
For adventure tourists, popular back-country locations can be used for camping. These locations will not require infrastructural enhancements to maintain the adventure experience.
For tourists seeking more luxurious experiences, existing campgrounds can be used. Potential locations include: Tillebrook Provincial Park, Kinbrook Island Provincial Park, Rolling Hills Reservoir Campground, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Emerson Bridge Campground, Poplar Grove Campground, and Crawling Valley Campground. It should be noted that these campgrounds are usually full on weekends during the peak tourism season.
Since a number of fishers and campers already frequent these campgrounds, it is assumed that these sites will not require additional road access or utility access. The business will simply organize tours to the best locations where fishing and camping is already taking place.
The following checklist should be used when determining site eligibility:
- Check zoning
- Ensure proper permits are in place
- Confirm business can operate on the designated land
- Check environmental regulations and species protection
- Determine legal and insurance requirements
- Market Attraction
- Employment opportunities can be built into and around these programs, with students apprenticing at the side of experienced locals in the fishing, camping, and tourism industries.
There is an untapped market of visitors to the region who would like to try fishing or more adventurous hiking/camping, but are overwhelmed by the resources necessary to learn. In general, tourists and hobbyists have a case of data-saturation; so much information is available online that people become paralyzed by the decisions necessary to buy gear, research the trip and the conditions, etc. The region can connect with visitors by offering a menu of options that have a focus on local knowledge and businesses, as well as focusing on historical aspects as well as environmental impacts of human activity in the surrounding area.
The major expenses for this business model will be two fishing boats and fishing and camping equipment. It is estimated that each fishing boat will cost approximately $30k. Each boat will require $5k in fishing and camping equipment. An additional $10k is estimated for two boat sheds, one of which can also be used as a storefront location.
In terms of revenue, the average market rate for fishing tours is $600/day all inclusive. It is estimated that the usage rate of the business will be 40% during the peak tourism season from May to October. One staff member will be needed for each boat at a wage rate of $15/hour for 18 hours.