Marie-Lynn Starnes is the new regional economic development supervisor for Slave Lake and area. The Leader had the chance to chat with Starnes to see how she’s doing so far with her new position.
“I have worked in municipal government for three years and before moving to Slave Lake, I worked for the Yellowhead County,” she says. “I was hired earlier this year to work with economic development and tri-council, and have been working out of the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) since being hired. I was the administrative assistant for tri-council before being promoted to regional tourism and economic development supervisor late last month.”
Starnes holds a finance business degree from Mount Royal University down in Calgary and also has credentials in wealth management, Canadian securities and Canadian practice.
“This is the first year that the Lesser Slave Lake Visitor Information Centre has been operated by the tri-council and we’re looking forward to growing and creating an open friendly atmosphere at the Visitor Information Centre,” says Starnes. “One of the big tasks that I want to undertake over the next few months is connecting with other Visitor Information Centers in the province, and outside the province to see how we can build a strong presence online, and in person.”
Starnes adds, “One project that kicked off earlier this month was surveying residents and visitors to find out what makes Slave Lake Region and destination for visitors and residents alike. We are a unique community, with unique needs and we want to ensure that we are working with all levels of governments, federal, provincial, and here municipal to showcase the best of the Slave Lake region.” When she’s not learning about the area through work, Starnes says she’s connecting with Slave Lake residents at events.
“In December 2016, my husband, daughter, and I moved to Slave Lake from Edson, Alberta. Since moving here I have found that I have enjoyed the community atmosphere and the amazing people who make up this unique community!” she says. “I am thrilled about living in Slave Lake. The amount of community spirit is show cased at events like Canada Day, and Riverboat Daze.”
As previously mentioned, this is the first year that tri-council is operating the VIC and Starnes says she’s seeing a difference.
“Since the tri-council has taken over the Visitor Information Centre, it has seen some renovations. We want to provide a relaxing environment for visitors and residents looking for information,” she says. “We are ensuring that all brochures are updated on a regular basis to ensure that visitors who come to the VIC get the most accurate information. We are keeping numbers over how many visitors come into the VIC, and in the last two months we have seen a 50 per cent increase since May. Which is fantastic!”
According to Starnes, the VIC is fully staffed and familiar with local tourism.
“We have three travel counsellors who work out of the VIC seven days a week and are available to help residents and visitors on their trip and maybe suggest some local hot spots in the region,” she says. “We have visitors from all over the world, including United States, Australia, New Zealand Switzerland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, United Kingdom, Nepal and China.”
If making Slave Lake a tourism destination interests you, or your business, Starnes says she’s trying to put together a collective of locals who want to do just that.
“I’m also working with various members of the community, from elected officials to business leaders to set up and launch a new destination marketing organization,” she says. “We’re looking at a date in August for elections to the board. Anyone interested in running for a position can contact me at the VIC by emailing Marie-Lynn.Starnes@slavelake.ca or calling 780-849-4611.”
The newly renovated sitting space for people to use whilst at the VIC.
Selina Noskiye, VIC travel advisor, ready to help visitors coming through the door.
The new brochure area in the VIC is stocked with up-to-date information packages for Slave Lake and other areas throughout Alberta.