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Revelstoke candidate for first university pro sled/ATV guide program
Thompson Rivers University is considering offering a university-level snowmobile and ATV adventure tourism training program in Revelstoke. Although there are snowmobile and ATV safety courses available, the TRU ‘mechanized adventure tourism training program’ is thought to be the first university-level certificate program of its kind in Canada. Students would graduate as certified snowmobile or ATV guides, and would also study the tourism business.
Iain Stewart-Patterson is a senior lecturer in the Adventure Studies Department at Thompson Rivers University. He said the idea came about as part of TRU’s efforts to develop an adventure tourism training program in Revelstoke. That effort has been covered in past Times Review stories, but the snowmobiling and ATV elements are new.
Stewart-Patterson said Revelstoke was the natural choice: “There’s nothing else out there. There appears to be the need within the snowmobile industry.” he said.
When people think of Revelstoke, “we think ski touring, we think snowmobiling,” he added.
The target start date is September of 2014, with an intake of about 18–20 students in Revelstoke. But it’s not for sure yet. TRU is doing a market survey, finding out if there’s a demand for the certified adventure tourism guides.
He said the snowmobile guiding industry is already somewhat established, so the market survey seeks to determine how their program will fit in.
He said the TRU Adventure Studies Department already offers traditional guiding programs, so it’s a matter of adapting the program.
“We have a level of expertise, and we’re looking at how to transfer that into a new market,” Stewart-Patterson said.
Students would study things like riding skills, chainsaw falling, trail maintenance, business development, marketing, resource management, avalanche safety and more.
In addition to the snowmobile/ATV course, TRU is also exploring a more traditional adventure tourism program that teaches things like ski touring and hiking – in addition to the tourism business side of the program.
City of Revelstoke economic development director Alan Mason has worked to bring the adventure tourism program to Revelstoke.
He remains excited about the program, saying it would bring students, teachers and other staff into the community, all generating economic activity. In addition, the trainees may go into business here. “If there is opportunity for people to develop business in the snow then that would be positive,” he said.
Another side benefit is the availability of university-level courses for community members. It could open courses in administration, accounting and more to Revelstoke residents.