Strong Partnerships Enhance Tourism
It was the work being done to designate the St. John River to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 2005 that convinced four municipalities and two non-profit organizations to join forces to boost river tourism. Focusing on the region from St. John to Fredericton, the area surrounding the 130-km stretch of the river was branded and marketed as “the Lower River Passage,” a regional tourism approach far stronger than anything the communities could have achieved individually.
A Unique Visitor Experience
Three river centres and two riverside parks were built, an inventory of the unique assets of the region was undertaken, and a website was created, which now includes online versions of the eight touring brochures developed. The final result is a visitor experience that showcases the natural and cultural heritage of the region, supported by each of the partnering communities. As journalist Valerie Pringle noted during her 2008 visit to the area, “The St. John River is one of the most peaceful and historic places in all of Canada… you should come visit!”
“The Lower River Passage is an opportunity for you to explore this naturally beautiful region and learn how it contributes to the history of North America.” (www.discoverthepassage.com)
A Legacy that Continues to this day
In 2009, the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick awarded the Lower River Passage a Tourism Excellence & Innovation Award for this extraordinary partnership. Almost ten years late, the Lower River Passage continues to promote the area as one region with partners contributing annual funding for the website, print material and trade shows.
“Choose a route to travel through the Passage. Cross on the river’s unique free cable ferries. Collect the lighthouses along the river. Visit the artisans on our Arts and Crafts Studio Route. A journey through the Passage is an experience of all the region and its communities have to offer.” (Excerpted from “www.discoverthepassage.com)
The St. John River begins in the deep woods of Maine and flows 400 km through New Brunswick into the Bay of Fundy, where it feeds the world’s highest tides. The river was designated to the CHRS in 2013 in recognition of its cultural heritage, in particular its contribution to the founding of Canada.