Tourism app highlights Alberta outdoor adventures

Monday is National Indigenous Peoples Day, and it comes at at time when more and more Canadians want to learn more about and experience First Nation’s culture. Shae Bird with Indigenous Tourism Alberta joined the noon news to talk about the various places around the province where people can learn more about Indigenous culture. – Jun 21, 2021

Imagine having the freedom to book your dream outdoor adventure in less then five minutes. From excursions, to culinary experiences, Yervana is a one-stop shop.

App CEO and founder, Jim McGovern, said there was a real need for an outdoor adventure app.

“Home sharing and ride sharing, that’s all started, but there was nothing in the outdoor adventure space at all.”

Launching the app in 2019 was an exciting step but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The tourism industry was hit hard and many companies were forced to shut down.

“The pandemic was a near-death experience for Yervana,” McGovern said.

“But you have to stick to the facts and stick to the fact that tourism isn’t going away. It will be back.

That’s exactly what happened. Making a great return, Yervana is not only back in full force, but it is back with a few new components, like Indigenous experiences.

“Indigenous cultural tours, they are the original locals, they are the original storytellers,” McGovern said.

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Teaming up with Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada has made for many options when it comes to learning adventure, history and culinary experiences.

“Singing and dancing and maybe some artisan work, those are all important pieces but there is a lot more diversity to our businesses,” Keith Henry, president and chief executive officer of Indigenous Tourism, said.

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If you’re more interested in the history of the culture, the group has that as well, said Henry.

“We teach people how to make bannock, and teach people about the Three Sisters, and what were grains, and how that was relevant to how we survived in this land before we had everything how we see it here today.”

“One in three Canadians in testing have said they want to experience Indigenous tourism.

“If we are going to rebuild tourism, Indigenous culture needs to be a big part of it. We are prepared for that and look forward to that,” Henry added.

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There is also a component on Yervana for those really looking to seek adventure and enjoy nothing but the outdoors.

A Calgary-based company, Nat’s Adventure Travels, is happy to be on the app, saying it draws much more attention to the company than Instagram or Facebook posts would.

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“I would like to encourage people to hire local guides, even if it’s for one hour,” said Nathalie Drotar, ACMG Hiking Guide for Nat’s Adventure Travels.

“Talking to that resource. People have the training, people are keen to share the information they have.

“I’ve had guests that have come on the trip and said: ‘I have always seen this parking lot and we always wondered where people go, what they do there’… because all you see is trees and you never know what’s behind those trees. There are actually trails that lead to meadows that lead to mountains and forests.”

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