The Slave Lake Region Tourism Society is a group made up of local business and individuals focused on growing and marketing tourism in the area.
Slave Lake mayor Tyler Warman updated the Slave Lake and District Chamber of Commerce on the society. This took place during the Feb. 26 chamber members meeting at the Medallion Room of the Slave Lake Inn and Conference Centre.
Warman started with some history. After the 2011 fire, there were economic development initiatives taken. One of these was a push on tourism. He explained that if businesses want people to move to Slave Lake they have to at least want to visit first.
There was a desire for the tourism push to be industry-driven, with town support. With that in mind the town put together a set of bylaws to form the legal society that became the tourism society. From there the society worked toward a plan to develop tourism. Warman said a draft plan should be completed in the coming weeks.
Warman outlined some of the tourism society’s recent activities. He referenced the takeover of the visitor info centre. This has been beneficial, as it put the society in contact with tourists. This allowed them to find out what is being missed and make the appropriate changes to rectify the situation.
Warman said they found that there is not a lot of material with the name ‘Slave Lake’ on it, nor was there a lot of printed material.
To address these problems, new audio and visual displays were recorded and used. New material was used and designed effectively. This makes info easily accessible for visitors and front-line staff.
There have been familiarization tours for front-line staff. This should allow staff to properly answer questions about what is going on in the community.
A website for the society was created. Warman said it gets approximately 120 hits per day. The goal is to keep the site up to date, with current information, as well as use more photos.
“Part of that includes social media and growing our online platform,” Warman said.
The tourism society partnered with the town, M.D. of Lesser Slave River, Sawridge First Nation and hotels. They hope to have their plan up and running by the 2018 Victoria Day long weekend. This includes releasing a visitor’s guide. They are looking at fee structures and different ones to offer. Society members will get a space in the guide.
Warman said in their research it showed that there are more tourism numbers in the summer but it does go year round.
“We realize that tourism is an all-seasons thing,” Warman said.
Warman emphasized that word of mouth is important to grow tourism. He said that there is a high satisfaction rate on area tourism but there remains uncertainty of what goes on.
The society is looking at ideas such as a tourism ‘passport.’ It would need prizes donated, but it would be a great way to promote activities at the Boreal Centre, for example.