There is an opportunity to develop a network of “adventure touring activities” on off-road private land and public roads in the County of Newell. These tours would involve renting a vehicle or animal for guided or self-guided day-tours.
Whether in combination or on separate pieces of land, the many elements can even be transformed based on seasons. It is anticipated that the development of adventure tours in the County would extend the range of outdoor tourism opportunities available in the area.
Trail biking groups can be established via new paths created for the purpose. These trails can be morphed in the winter to accommodate cross-country skiing or indeed, even the newer sport of snow bicycling.
Horseback riding trails can be established as both smaller rides and more extensive, even overnight sessions on larger plots of land. The aspect of connecting with the animal is so crucial to the region’s agricultural development and is particularly relevant in integrating the area’s economic development with its existing history.
Motorcycle and dirt bike tours can also be established. Participants can cruise open highways, scenic back roads, past rural farmlands and through small town main streets by renting a motorcycle or using their own. By taking advantage of the long, warm summer season and the crisp, clean fall days, participants hit the road and tour all corners of the County by following pre-planned routes, attending an event, or creating a customized itinerary.
Similarly, a dirt bike is a lightweight motorcycle for use on rough surfaces, such as dirt roads or trails. Dirt bike tours will, therefore, provide an off-roading option on the land and rugged terrain characteristic of the region.
All-terrain vehicle (ATV) tours are another option for off-road adventure tourism. These four-wheel vehicles provide the stability for tourists to explore areas of the region that are inaccessible by other forms of transportation. This adventure tourism option also provides the possibility of two individuals occupying the same vehicle through the use of a two-seater.
The business model requires a location to house any vehicles or horses used in adventure tours. It is anticipated that this site will be located on the business owner’s private land. This will likely be agricultural farmland in the region or the privately owned badlands around Dinosaur Provincial Park.
If a storage structure does not already exist on the owner’s land, then a garage or storage shed will likely have to be built to store the vehicles. Similarly, stables will have to be constructed for the horse riding business if the owner does not already have these on their property.
Very little is determined to be necessary in terms of electricity, water, and road access. None of the adventure tours require electricity or running water. A number of the tours – such as trail biking, horseback riding, dirt biking, and ATVs – need to be conducted at off-road locations.
The exception is motorcycle tours, which would be conducted on County roads. Road access from the business owner’s private land to a main road would likely be necessary in this context. In addition, some County roads may need to be paved to allow motorcycle access to certain areas and sites on the tour route.
The following checklist should be used when determining site eligibility:
- Check zoning
- Ensure proper permits are in place
- Confirm business can operate on the designated land
- Check environmental regulations and species protection
- Determine legal and insurance requirements
Adventure tours will attract two different demographics. The first is tourists and locals who regularly engage in adventure activities. Certain groups of tourists may partake in adventure tours wherever they travel or even seek out the County of Newell specifically because its natural features are good for adventure tours. This group will likely not require guided tours and will be seeking a higher degree of difficulty from the tours.
Another market demographic will be those visitors that are seeking a new experience, but have little background or expertise in adventure tourism activities. These tourists may be from more urban areas or regions where outdoor adventure activities are more difficult to find. They will require lessons, guided tours, and a lower degree of tour difficulty.
Though both genders are potential markets for adventure tours, the demographics for trail biking, motorcycling, dirt biking, and ATVs will skew towards men between the ages of 16 and 50. This also creates the opportunity to attract groups such as bachelor parties. Horseback riding will attract both men and women equally.
A number of expenses will be required for a base of operations for the adventure tours. Two storage sheds are estimated at $10k, a portable toilet at $1.5k, and trail maintenance at $30k. Two staff members are estimated to each receive a wage of $15/hour for 8 hours/day during the peak tourism season between May and October. As a result, total base expenses are calculated at $84.7k.
Activity expenses will primarily be based on the cost of vehicles and equipment for each particular experience. For the purposes of this analysis, the following costs are estimated: mountain bike - $3k; motorcycle - $20k; dirt bike - $6k; ATV - $11k. These estimates include storage costs, gas, and maintenance. Insurance costs are estimated at $500/year for each activity.
In the case of horseback riding, it is assumed that any entrepreneur interested in pursuing this opportunity will already own a horse and provide for stables, food, and health care. As a result, estimated horseback riding expenses are pro-rated in the financial analysis at $1k/year.
In terms of revenues, the following average rates will apply: mountain bike - $60/day; motorcycle - $300/day; dirt bike - $175/day; ATV - $200/day; horseback riding - $150/day. It is estimated that usage rates will be 30 days/year for all activities.
It is assumed that the business owner will choose the type of adventure tours available, as well as the number of pieces of equipment for each activity. The financial projections provided below are on a per unit basis for each type of equipment, excluding the cost of base operations. It is assumed the business owner will choose a combination of adventure tour activities, where the combined net operating income will cover $84.7k in base operations expenses and the desired profit margin of the owner.