Tuesday, 23 October 2018 17:12

Report Cites Need to Enhance Tourism

Written by Richard Froese - South Peace News

Tourism partners in Big Lakes County showed they are eager to build the sector during a special meeting Oct. 2 in Joussard.

About 30 people gathered to hear and discuss the results of a visitor-friendly assessment interim report, which will be used as a tool to boost tourism.

“We can see what we can work on together,” says Lisa Baroldi, executive director of Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority.

“This is a regional sector we can all be involved in.”

Baroldi asked the question, “How can we go beyond Big Lakes County and partner with other communties?”

The report was presented by Expedition Management Consulting, a group that specializes in tourism and recreation. The report cited several key issues including improving directional signage, increasing tourism knowledge of residents and businesses, and upgrading the appearance of communities and business buildings.

“Clusters of signs distracts from the natural beauty of the area,” says project manager and tourism action planning specialist Justin Rous- seau.

People agreed signage can be improved by directing visitors to the actual location. They also agreed professional appealing signs are more attractive than signs that are rough and dilapidated.

Small task groups will be formed soon to lead several projects that Baroldi suggests could include hospitality training, Indigenous tourism and tourism information to help business staff inform tourists about attractions and amenities in the region.

She says it will be important to get commitment from High Prairie and Big Lakes councils to develop tourism.

Improving business areas with streetscap- ing can start small, says Rousseau says.

“Focus on one street or one block and expand from there,” he says.

Funding opportunities from the Government of Alberta are also available to support various projects, he adds.

Indigenous tourism is also a key component, says another local speaker from the newly-formed Indigenous Tourism Alberta.

“Our strategy is to grow Alberta’s Indigenous tourism economy by inspiring local, national and international visitors to experience Alberta’s Indigenous culture and history,” says Charmaine Willier- Larsen, a council member of Sucker Creek First Nation.

“We want to show everybody what we do in our culture and create employment and economic development.”

A Travel Alberta official says tourists desire extensive experiences that promote the area’s prime features.

“Create moments where tourists want to come back and stay longer,” says Tracey Desjardins, experience development north manager.

“What are your strengths and opportunities in your region?”

Quality of service was the No. 1 strength of the region when the consulting team visited in the summer.

After a winter visit in January or February, a final report is scheduled for March, he says.

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