The season in visitor information

Dog Island a marketable tourism asset?

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Slave Lake’s Visitor Information Centre had a reduced season of operation in 2020. But it was open for a couple of months, and Garry Roth, the town’s director of community services, had a report on it at town council’s Nov. 10 meeting

During those two months (July and August) the VIC saw 667 visitors. Unlike normal years, these were mostly travelers from within Alberta. Of these 58.5 per cent were from the Edmonton area, with a further 12 per cent from Calgary. The remaining 30 per cent were spread out from various regions of Alberta, with three per cent from B.C. and one per cent visiting all the way from Ontario.

The purpose of the visits was also recorded. The biggest reason? To use the washroom (31.5 per cent). After that, it was questions about directions or requests for maps. Third most popular was requests for information about ‘aquatic activities.’ Inquiries about hiking and quad trails was next (11 per cent), followed by camping and info about local businesses.

One tidbit that came out of the report was interest in Dog Island. Several VIC visitors asked about what there is to do there, or how to get to it.

“Dog Island seems to have the potential to be a marketable tourism asset,” says the written report.

The report also discusses the pros and cons of the VIC location. Being 3.7 kms outside of town has its drawbacks.

“Visitors and locals had trouble finding us,” says the report.

On the other hand, the location “is great for visitors to pull into with large loads.”

The report came with a couple of recommendations. One was to open in May next year, “as per usual.” Another was to move the operation “to a more central location such as the MRC. This would alleviate a few issues around staff working alone, as well as expose visitors to some of our local assets.”

The M.D. might have something to say about that. The facility is jointly funded by the town and M.D., which take turns looking after the operation. Contacted by email last week, reeve Murray Kerik said the proposal was news to him.

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