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  • Writer's pictureAnne Vos

What it's like to start a tourism business in the Peace Country

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Lots of people tell us that we are ‘living their dream’ with our riverbank cabins and river paddling activity business. Like any business, the roll out in 2013 was indeed creative and exciting. We were taking a beautiful piece of basically raw land and making it into an escape where people could experience the awe and love we felt for the stunning Peace River Valley.

Full disclosure, we used the ‘build it and they will come’ business plan. That's not necessarily recommended in the business textbooks. When Henry and I started Peace River Cabins and Outdoors, the lifestyle aspect of the business was a luxury that incorporated our new personal paths, having gained success in other career paths.

Our background in farming and building projects made the building phase relatively straightforward and fun. We hired contractors for the clearing and building projects but we were very much hands on. The warm and dry microclimate and flat, natural prairie vegetation made land development fairly easy. Wild saskatoon bushes abound on the property. We designed the ~10 acre cabin sites area to fit into the unique natural landscape. It has been a joy to discover many of the unique plants and animals that are found in this special place. When we moved to the site, I remember being overwhelmed on a daily basis of the beauty of the valley, and that feeling has stayed with me every day since.

Like all business owners, we had gaps in our expertise. Few people are good at everything. Since Henry and I had farmed together for many years, we were not newbies to the challenges of operating a business with one’s partner. However even after all these years I would not hesitate to say, the people involved will make or break a businesses success, and it can put strain on a marriage like nothing else! Nevertheless, we're still together after 38 years of marriage.

When one enters an industry that you are not familiar with, the challenge is really to move through the learning curve fast enough to stay ahead of the bank. No matter what new business you want to try, the cardinal rule is to base it on very strong evidence about what your potential customers want.

We were fully aware that Peace River is not an established tourism area and that the world was not full of people who were dying to come to the Peace country. So, it remains a labor of love, trying to bring economic development to a region that we are strongly connected to. That's not for the faint-hearted!

Still, it’s been a joy, through trial and error, and a large dose of stubbornness, to work towards our mission of: “ Create a unique venue for travelers to connect with nature, the historical and natural lessons of the Peace Country, and their own inner peace."

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