Efforts by organizers who are bringing the World Acadian Congress to northern Maine and neighboring regions of New Brunswick and Quebec are featured in a new online resource produced by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the online toolkit includes profiles of more than 80 communities achieving success in promoting their unique historical and cultural attractions despite the challenges posed by today’s economy.
Amy Webb, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Heritage Tourism Program, said the agency wanted to highlight “real-life stories” of communities working to achieve their goals.
“Cultural heritage tourism attractions want to hear from others in the trenches, facing similar challenges,” she explained. “These survival stories showcase how many communities are succeeding in the face of an economic downturn.”
The website allows visitors to search for stories by region of the country, type of attraction or organization, and the survival strategies that the stories illustrate. The toolkit also includes links to other online resources to help cultural and heritage tourism attractions and organizations stay afloat during tough times. The toolkit, www.preservationnation.org/survival-toolkit, was developed after hundreds of hours of outreach to national and state leaders in cultural and heritage tourism over the past year.
Maine officials working on the 2014 World Acadian Congress were contacted last spring about the project’s selection as one of 80 across the country to be featured by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. All five members of the Maine delegation to the 2014 World Acadian Congress International Organizing Committee were interviewed for the feature, which is referenced on the website under three strategy headings: “Collaborate in New Ways,” “Enhance Your Product” and “Leverage Anniversaries.”
Jason Parent, Maine president on the international WAC organizing committee, said the website will bring national awareness to the 2014 event, since it will be viewed by thousands of people across the country.
The World Acadian Congress is held every five years in different regions populated by Acadians. The 2014 gathering will be staged Aug. 8-24 in northern Maine, northwestern New Brunswick and the Temiscouata region of Quebec. This will be the first time in the event’s history that it will span two countries.
In the past, the event has attracted more than 50,000 visitors for two weeks to host regions including Louisiana and the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick.
The congress typically features more than 300 events, including family reunions, regional celebrations, and sporting and cultural events. Hotels, restaurants, stores and other facilities typically see a significant influx of revenue. The economic spinoff for recent congresses has ranged from $30 million to $50 million in the host region.
In winning the 2014 bid, the Maine-New Brunswick-Quebec region, operating under the unified title “Acadia of the Lands and Forests,” beat out competing applications from Quebec City and Louisiana.
The direct address for the feature on the World Acadian Congress can be found at: www.preservationnation.org/issues/heritage-tourism/survival-toolkit/hosting-the-2014-world-acadiam-maine.html.