City removes tourism brochures for winter
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013 06:00 am
Tourism information racks will be removed from St. Albert Place until the spring due to fewer tourists picking up brochures, said a spokesperson from the city’s economic development team.
The comment comes in response to a concerned email by local chamber of commerce president Lynda Moffat that the racks were moved further back into a hallway at city hall and out of sight from visitors.
Joan Barber, marketing and research manager with the city’s economic development team, said the city moved the racks last week to make room for an art show. But with fewer visitors looking for brochures, the racks will now be stored away, she said.
“There just isn’t a high demand at this time and with the amount of demand there is on the lobby we just made the decision to take them down,” she said.
Barber added that the city had monitored the uptake of brochures since September long weekend. In the summer the racks need to be filled three times a week, she said, but now demand is so minimal that they need to be filled once every week or two.
She added that the number one product picked up by tourists is the campground guide, which is not used in the winter. Those looking for information on local events, plays or dining can still find brochures in front of the office of cultural services, she said.
Another rack of local tourism brochures is located at Servus Place in Campbell Business Park.
“What we find when people are coming to St. Albert, particularly in the winter, they are quite often coming for a hockey tournament or indoor soccer tournament,” she said. “So we found the best way to provide these people with information is to have it at Servus.”
Chamber still sees tourists
While the city counts fewer tourists at St. Albert Place, Moffat said they still walk in and out of the chamber building on St. Albert Trail.
The building was the designated Business and Visitor Centre before economic development moved out in early February, leaving the chamber as its primary tenant. Moffat said chamber staff helps visitors as much as possible but they lack the time and employees to do a proper job.
The chamber now plans to bring another, formal proposal before city council to bring tourism services back to the building.
“I just think that we’ll be showing a lot more respect for the needs of our visitors in St. Albert once we have a proper visitor information centre,” she said.
The last time the chamber proposed a partnership with the city to provide tourist information was in early September.
In a presentation to council, Moffat suggested the city contract the chamber to provide the service and could hire staff to open a welcome centre during the summer months. She also suggested there be two locations for services, the chamber building and the farmers’ market.
The estimated cost was about $40,000 a year, with materials extra. At the time, Moffat said about 400 people enter the building in a week.
“Every day people come in, all the time. We are on a major thoroughfare,” she has now told the Gazette. “A lot of people connect the chamber of commerce with the visitor centre because it’s so common across Canada.”
Moffat added that people are frustrated – sometimes angry – if they are sent to city hall for information. While visitor numbers certainly drop in the winter, she said the city keeps non-resident dollars from entering the city and makes it difficult for visitors to discover St. Albert.
“It puts a really big, black mark on the City of St. Albert that we can’t establish a very welcoming and friendly place for them to be,” she said.