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The ACCORD Initiative

The ACCORD Initiative (Concerted Action for Regional Development Cooperation) builds on regional strengths and on the pursuit of excellence in Quebec’s key sectors. This approach works on a regional level by grouping together all the social and economic actors in an industry cluster of excellence. Together they lay out and implement a strategy to ensure the optimal conditions in order to compete internationally as a niche market.

Adventure tourism and ecotourism is one of the four industry clusters operating in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, grouping together more than 60 companies.

The core businesses of the adventure tourism and ecotourism cluster are operating activities in the following fields:

  1. Adventure tourism is defined as outdoor physical activity taking place in a specific natural environment, (unique, unusual, exotic, isolated, wild) that involves traditional or non-traditional means of transportation (ex. snowmobiling, mountain biking, walking, canoeing, kayaking, etc.) as well as a minimum level of risk.
  2. Ecotourism aim is for the visitor to discover a natural environment while conserving its integrity.  For example, any activity involving the interpretation and education of natural areas and the surrounding culture emphasising environmental respect, while having a positive socioeconomic impact on local communities.

The member companies of the cluster offer either adventure tourism and/or ecotourism activities. Other stakeholder organizations offer training for the specialized workforce or manufacture equipment used in adventure and/or ecotourism activities

History of the Cluster

As part of the ACCORD initiative, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region signed an agreement in principle on February 13, 2003 identifying potential industry clusters for the region. Over the following years through an in-depth consultation of the regional adventure and ecotourism industry, a strategy and action plan were submitted on February 19th 2008, by the regional comity presidents and the cluster comity to the Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Exportation. It was a few months later, in June 2008, that the first funding agreement for the hiring of a cluster director was signed, triggering simultaneously the beginning of the implementation of the 2008-2013 action plan.

The first two years of operations were mainly used to establish the cluster, publicize the approach and refine the management and operational structure. Starting in 2010 the first projects started to emerge and the collaboration between the companies really came into being.

Since the beginning of the cluster’s implementation, nearly 30 projects have been established or supported by the cluster, for a total investment of 5 million dollars.

Mission and Vision

Mission : Coordinate, mobilize and organize the adventure tourism and ecotourism industry in Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean through the implementation of structuring actions and projects.

Vision : Make adventure tourism and ecotourism in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean an organized and internationally recognized signature industry.

The Team

Members on the cluster working committee

Franck Turcotte, co-chair (Village-Vacances Petit-Saguenay)
Rébecca Tremblay, co-chair (Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux)
David-Alexandre Aubé (Adrénaline Rafting)
Mathieu Bergeron (Organisaction–Le Québec Hors-Circuits)
Gerry Desmeules (Parc de la caverne Trou de la fée)
Nathalie Gaudreault (Promotion Saguenay)
Jérôme Gouron (Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay)
Hugues Ouellet (Équinox Aventure)
Jocelyn Fortin (Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation)

Director of the cluster

Gilles Simard, B.Ed., MBA

Holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA), Gilles Simard has been director of the cluster since May 2016. He has been an entrepreneur in adventure tourism and economic development for more than 20 years. He was also a teacher at the Cégep de Saint-Félicien in the Department of Tourism, and is a lecturer at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.