Two Chilliwack high school students aim to put the Fraser Valley on the world map this month at an international tourism competition in Monte Carlo, Monaco Nov. 17 to 22.
The Global Travel and Tourism Partnership's Research Competition brings together students from around the world every year.
This year's theme is "innovation in tourism," and the Canadian Academy of Travel and Tourism (CATT) picked G.W. Graham secondary students Megan MacDonald and Ashley Fisher to represent Canada for their case study on "Hand-Picked in the Valley," a tourism partnership between the municipalities of Abbotsford, Langley, and Chilliwack.
"I was incredibly excited," said G.W. Graham tourism teacher Cheryl Tourand, who'll join them on their trip. "The girls had worked so hard on the case study proposal."
For their project, MacDonald and Fisher researched 33 Fraser Valley businesses listed on Hand-Picked in the Valley, including Chilliwack's Minter Gardens and Fantasy Farms (home of Reapers Haunted Attraction and the annual garlic festival).
Their winning report also features a bit of background history and climate information about Canada, B.C. and the Fraser Valley as well as recommendations on how to improve the tourism partnership.
The whole process has expanded their view of tourism, they said.
"Opportunities like this started to change our view on tourism, from the limited perspective of accommodations, transportation and recreational attractions, to the little flower shop down the street and the mom-and-pop diner," MacDonald wrote on their project blog.
For Fisher, Hand-Picked in the Valley unscored the advantage of communities and businesses working together to promote tourism.
"We're all connected," she told the Times. "We should all be trying to team up together and not just go it alone and try to beat out the other person."
Having two students picked to represent Canada is a real feather in her school's cap, said Tourand, who has seen G.W. Graham's tourism program grow from non-existent four years ago to earning gold-level certification in the spring.
"This project has been a great learning tool," she said.
For MacDonald and Fisher, meanwhile, the trip to fabled Monaco is an opportunity of a lifetime. "I'm excited to represent my country," MacDonald said. "I never thought I'd be able to do something like that."
? To find out more about MacDonald's and Fisher's trip, visit http: //meganandashleymonacobound.blogspot.ca. For more information about Hand-Picked in the Valley, visit www.handpickedinthevalley.com.