Southern Sask. communities sign agreement with Montana tourism organization to increase cross-border travel

An American and Canadian flag are seen in this undated file photo. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A group of Saskatchewan towns has partnered with Montana’s Missouri River Country tourism organization to promote cross-border tourism in both areas.

The cohort of communities is known as South Saskatchewan Ready and is made up of nine rural municipalities near the Saskatchewan-U.S. border.

“We thought it would be a good idea to partner with our friends in the U.S. (who have) very similar types of topography and lands, and people,” said Sean Wallace, the managing director of South Saskatchewan Ready.

The partnership aims to increase travel to both regions and the groups plan to develop a three-day itinerary and a seven-day itinerary to allow tourists to experience the best southern Saskatchewan and northeastern Montana have to offer.

“We figured it might be a good idea to partner with them and expand our market a little bit more in the U.S., and it gives them an opportunity to do the same,” said Wallace

The Canadian government is planning to phase out coal fired electricity by 2030. A majority of residents living in the area work in the coal industry.

The groups are also hoping to ease the negative economic effects of the coal transition.

“(We want to come up) with ways that we can mitigate the negative effects and hopefully find some replacement industry to ensure that folks in the age group 25-45 still have a few years left in their career,” explained Wallace. “If we can keep them here and transition them into other opportunities that are comparable to what they are now, that is the best case scenario”.

Itineraries for the cross-border tourism activities will be available in May 2022 on South Saskatchewan Ready’s website.