Monday, 12 February 2018 06:03

Crowsnest Visitor Services funding continues into 2018

Written by  Demi Knight
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Crowsnest Visitor Services funding continues into 2018 Contributed

After a successful pilot year, Alberta is extending their Visitor Services Innovation Fund (VSIF) into 2018 to continue the work of connecting more organizations with travelers across the province.

After launching in 2017, the program became popular with communities across the entire province as it offered a more innovative way for areas to connect and enhance the experiences of travellers during their Alberta-bound getaways.
“Based on the success of the pilot, we are excited to continue the program, empower our tourism industry partners and help ensure visitors to the province have a great travel experience,” says Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism a on the extension of the program into the new year.
With a recent provincial document setting out an objective to create a new visitor model in Alberta, and help engage visitors in an era of technology, the VSIF began its pilot year in 2017, and was able to award eighteen communities across Alberta with $107,000 in total funding. This included giving grants up to $7,000 for individual organizations offering visitor services and $16,000 to those partnering with organizations to develop new tourism strategies for visitors to extend stays and try new experiences during their time in Alberta.
Two communities within Southern Alberta that have benefitted from the VSIF in the past year were Lethbridge and those in the Crowsnest Pass.
With the Chinook Country Tourism Association and the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce using the funding to purchase mobile information centres to travel to different events and surrounding areas, the two communities were able to better promote their respective land to new and returning populations alike.
“The pop-up tent we purchased through the VSIF grant last year was great for getting some local information into the hands of visitors throughout the summer,” says Jackie Woodman, Office Manager with the Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce of the new mobile visitor centre.
“The Chamber set it up a couple of times at markets, and also lent it out to community groups to use, with the condition that they hand out visitor information.  That seemed to work well, and I think we'll continue to do that in the future.”
The Chinook Country Tourism Association, who also received a mobile unit this past year are just as excited about the elevation that the tourism industry has seen with the help of the funding as of recent and hope they too can continue their work with the help of VSIF going into 2018.
“Over the last number of years, we’ve seen drastic changes from how people used to plan and engage with the communities compared to how they do it now,” says Nikolaus Wyslouzil, Executive Director with Chinook Country Tourist Association.
“So, the fund is important as it has allowed us to bring in some staff, have a mobile kiosk, go out into the community and go out to where the people are versus waiting for the people to come to where we are.”
Wyslouzil also added that the mobile kiosk saw great results when travelling to locations and events outside of the city as they were able to engage with wider audiences as well as residents to better spread the word of their services, reaching an additional 2,077 visitors through this new method in its first year.
With hopes to continue the work of propelling the tourism industry to better diversify the economy, create jobs and encourage investment in communities across the province, the government is excited to continue their work with the VSIF into 2018 and ultimately create a better connection between the people and the province.
“From special events and great restaurants to local museums and landmarks off the beaten track, visitor services are the link between travellers and a great Alberta experience. We want to encourage more innovative ideas to help visitor services providers inspire and engage visitors,” added Miranda of this provincial plan.

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