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Visitors to Alberta often focus their attention on the Rocky Mountains. Now, a tourism organization is pushing tourists to discover the wonders in the foothills next door.

The Foothills Tourism Association‘s new strategy aims to increase tourism to the area just east of the mountains with a goal to expand economic stability, growth and employment.

It has a created a tourism destination website, which lists almost 200 businesses that provide tourist-related services. Research forecasts that the number of tourist-related businesses could grow to more than 500.

“We are thrilled to have banded together as tourism related businesses,” said Judy Kolk,owner/operator of Kayben Farms and an association board member. “This region has so much to offer and now Alberta, Canada and beyond will have the opportunity to learn about our rich history and beautiful communities.”

“The culture the Foothills represents is extensive and historic,” said Hugo Bonjean, president of Beekeeper & Wine Alchemist Spirit Hills Winery and an association board member. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to bring together all levels of government, local businesses and the tourism sector to stimulate economic growth and employment in the region.”

Foothills Tourism worked with Travel Alberta to develop the website that provides travellers with customized listings. It features a comprehensive listing of all Foothills-based events and a “build-your-own adventure” feature that allows the user to create their own tour.

The association represents the region from Bragg Creek south to Nanton, southwest from Calgary along Hwy 2 and into eastern Kananaskis.

The association states that is believes it can capitalize on tourism to drive the regional economy. It estimates that tourism spending in the foothills could increase from $29 million to $40.1 million over the next five years.

It notes that foothills are close enough to to Calgary and its international an airport to enjoy 30 per cent growth based on national domestic trends.

“This strategy centres around community building within the Foothills and beyond, telling a story of Foothills explorers worldwide.”

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