Closure of Smoky River Tourism Centre calls for new approach to promoting the region


Tom Henihan
Express Staff

The Smoky River Tourism Centre located on the north side of Highway 49 at the entrance to the Town of Falher has closed permanently.

“We were just out of money and when we looked at the books versus the amount of people who actually visited the centre it didn’t really make sense,” says Smoky River Tourism president Patty Turnquist.

Apart from not having enough visitors to the centre to keep two students busy through the day, Turnquist says that having those students working alone occasionally at the rather isolated location was a big safety concern.

Access to the tourism centre building also posed a challenge with numerous people complaining that while they could see the building they were confused as to how to access it.

“But being in town it was getting to be less and less people visiting the centre and it wasn’t cost effective,” she says. “We are not a big enough centre to get a giant amount of tourists who come and stop there. If it was right off the highway with lots of traffic and easy to access, if we were on Donnelly Corner on the way to Peace River, then maybe we would have more visitors stopping. “

The actual Tourism Centre might be closed but Smoky River Tourism is still an active entity exploring more contemporary methods for promoting tourism in the region.

“We did hire one summer student who put all the information together to create a brochure of the region,” says Turnquist. “We were thinking of making a fairly big brochure that opens up to a map and showcases each town, things to do and the attractions in the region.

“We would like to put the brochure in the local tourism centers such as Grande Prairie, Peace River, Whitecourt, Slave Lake, High Prairie as well as updating and increasing the amount of information on our website.”

Turnquist anticipates that the brochure will be completed by the fall and ready to ship out in early spring.

She also believes that once the original brochure is produced they probably won’t need to hire a student every year. Instead, they will retain someone to update the brochure to keep it current and then print it in small batches or to meet demand.

The Smoky River Tourism website will also promote the MD and all the towns in the region, listing the fun and interesting activities in the area.

The website will showcase activities such as golf courses, Girouxville bowling alley, campgrounds and places to stay.

“We are also planning to have an events page showing what is happening in the entire area so if you need to see what is going on, there will be one page to find everything.” She says.

“We will also keep up with what’s happening on Facebook and pull from there to add to our website and from the website post more things to Facebook to share with the public.”

Smoky River Tourism is funded by the MD of Smoky River, the Town of Falher, and the Village of Girouxville and they will continue to offer support.

However, the maintaining the new brochure and website will likely cost less money than keeping the tourism centre open, while also promising to be a lot more effective in promoting tourism in the region.

Visit Smoky River Tourism on Facebook or its website at smokyrivertourism.ca

The website may be inactive for a time while it is being updated.

 

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