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Busy year ahead for Athabasca Country Tourism

Athabasca Country Tourism coordinator Kathy Wright has a busy year ahead with plenty of opportunities to market and promote the region as a preferred tourist destination. In March alone, Kathy has three major out-of-town trade shows to attend; two in Edmonton and one in Calgary. “I’m definitely getting knowledgeable about trade shows,” she admits. “There are eight or nine this year, with March being a big month. In April, there’s a ‘stay in Alberta’ type of show in Fort McMurray. That will be a very good show for us.”

Closer to home, Kathy is looking forward to the Athabasca Outdoor Show, sponsored by 94.1 The River, to be hosted in the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, May 6-7. If preparing for and attending trade shows isn’t enough to keep Athabasca’s tourism coordinator busy, she has a variety of other meetings, events and responsibilities to tend to as well, including training sessions and workshops for tourism staff and tourism operators, a variety of Athabasca 2011 Centennial events, and of course, overseeing the Athabasca Visitor Centre. “The Visitor Centre is in the Athabasca Train Station again this year and I’ll be hiring two summer students to staff the centre,” says Kathy. “It’s a great location, making for some great conversation.” Identified in 2006 as one of the 25 most significant historic resources in the Town of Athabasca, the Train Station, an original CNR prototype, is a well-known landmark located on 50 St.

One of the numerous attractions to be highlighted this Centennial year will be an Art in the Park and Farmers Market event being planned for the Riverfront in June. It is hoped that the event will be received well and can be expanded upon each year. “For the Art in the Park event, artists and craftspeople can display their work and offer it for sale,” Kathy explains. “For the Farmers Market, we hope to have produce, baking and all the typical items you would expect to find there.”

Kathy works closely with local groups like the Magnificent River Rats and the Athabasca Centennial Committee. She also has a good working relationship with Travel Alberta North, sometimes participating with them in shared funding opportunities for qualifying events. Staff training sessions and workshops for local tourism operators are often provided by Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. “We’ll have more Travel Alberta workshops coming up, and they’re free,” Kathy advises.

In May, there will be an Alberta Visitor Information Providers (AVIP) training session. The goal of AVIP is to develop a provincial network of visitor information centers recognizable to the visitor for the high level of professional service offered. Kathy is pleased that Athabasca will be part of this Alberta Tourism program. “We accredited the Athabasca Visitor Centre last year through Alberta Tourism,” she explains. “In addition to staff training, we can access a variety of benefits, resources and support through Alberta Tourism.”

Coordinator enjoys the community

Kathy has served Athabasca Country Tourism as coordinator for about two months now and is enjoying the experience. “I am absolutely loving the community,” she declares. “The region has so much to offer in tourism – history, fishing, trail systems, winter sports. I was very excited when I got the job and the Town and the County have been very welcoming.” Previously, she has managed visitor centres in Alberta and British Columbia. She also supports and promotes volunteerism. “I like to volunteer and be involved in the community.” Athabasca Country Tourism is governed by a board of directors and Kathy is currently looking for more board members. Interested tourism operators and retail business owners are encouraged to contact her for more  information. Retail business owners should have a voice on the board, too, notes Kathy, because tourism contributes to the economic well being of the entire business community.

Contact Kathy at 780-675-2230, or visit the Athabasca Country Tourism website.

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