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Federal Liberals say tourism helping rural resurgence

The federal government’s National Rural Caucus has been meeting in New Brunswick this week looking at ways to boost rural communities.

Despite concerns over mine closures and the future of the softwood lumber industry, some are saying rural communities are going through a resurgence.

Dave Smith works for Outdoor Elements outdoor specialty shop in Sussex. He says interest is way up in what he calls adventure oriented tourism.

Caucus members say things like agri-tourism can boost rural economies that have struggled.

“We here in this area are working on a very big project which is obviously the completion of the connector roads for the Fundy Trail Parkway,” said Alaina Lockhart, MP for Fundy Royal.

Even more people say many tourists aren’t just here to snap a few pictures, they want an experience.

“We had a rainy day, there’s plenty to do,” said Gudie Hutchings, parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Business & Tourism. “If you want to be hiking and active there’s tons to do and that’s what rural Canada has to offer.”

While officials admit challenges still exist, there seems to be a resurgence in rural New Brunswick.

“Those communities are reinventing themselves and they’re using the local industries,” said caucus chair and Tobique-Mactaquac MP TJ Harvey. “They’re creating jobs using innovative new ways to capitalize on the infrastructure that’s already there in their communities.”

The caucus met with small business and constituents earlier in the week as well as a round table with tourism operators today.

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