beachAs much of the Northern Hemisphere remains cold, or if you live in Washington DC blanketed in deep snow, thoughts of a warm Summer holiday spring to mind as something to look forward to.

Where shall we go? Most people think of heading to the beach to soak up the sun and relax.

Others head for hills to escape the hordes and to fill their lungs with clean air, whilst taking in the panoramic views.

But hey, fancy a holiday with a difference? How about one in the wilds of beautiful Alberta.

But isn’t that where the tar sands are?

Hmmmm…. Yes.

Not to be put off by its poor image overseas, Alberta is to promote itself  as a tourist destination.

As the Calgary Sun points out: “A bid to scrub the tarnished image of the oilsands has spurred the province to promote tourism and recreation in a region currently condemned around the world as an environmental calamity.”

The paper continues: “Where massive shovels now tear the earth, the province is looking towards a future of campgrounds and recreation.”

The details were revealed in this week’s budget, under business plans for Tourism, Parks and Recreation.

One paragraph read: “Collaborate with the Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat and other ministries to develop conservation, recreation and tourism objectives for oil sands regions.”

The irony is too much for the columnist on the Calgary Sun: “Images of people waterskiing on tailing ponds or building sandcastles in the muck spring to mind”.

But Alberta’s Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Mel Knight, is deadly serious. “They’re known globally for dark holes in the ground, and it’s unfortunate,” said Knight. “There is an opportunity there for tourism in the future, and there is an opportunity there now — it’s a beautiful part of the country.”

“There’s a tremendous opportunity here to knit those things together and make the region more accessible and more acceptable to people that are in the market for tourism destinations. It’s gorgeous, beautiful country.”

How anyone could call Alberta’s Mordor landscape beautiful is beyond me.

So anyone heading to the tar sands for this Summer’s vacation, please send us a copy of your holiday pics … .

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