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Message from GPRTA's Executive Director
Winter 2021/2022

Message from GPRTA's Executive Director

As 2021 draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on how the past few months have flown by since I became Executive Director in March. 

It’s been quite a whirlwind, joining the organization at a pivotal time, working to promote our region when traveling and attending events, even locally, can involve some restrictions and adhering to protocols. 

It’s been almost two years of uncertainty and upheaval for businesses and venue operators and I applaud every one of you for navigating through the challenges. It’s not been easy and we’re all eager to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror. 

While my own career path has involved significant time of employment in the tourism sector, working in hotel and casino positions, this role has given me an even greater appreciation for our beautiful region and the industry itself. 

And there’s so much to love. 

While traveling further afield has been disrupted over the past 21 months, the GPRTA has increased efforts to highlight the many things this area offers residents to see and do – those hidden gems or places they haven’t been to in a while. We look forward to being able to fully welcome visitors from across the country and around the globe soon. 

We’ve also invested resources in training to help service staff and managers be even better ambassadors through the Customer Service Blue Pin Program in association with Northwestern Polytechnic, formerly Grande Prairie Regional College, and the County of Grande Prairie. 

I’m grateful for partnerships like this that help us build on the strengths of the region’s tourism sector. 

There are so many other aspects about being GPRTA Executive Director to enjoy: 

  • The GPRTA staff is passionate about welcoming guests and helping our region put its best foot forward; 
  • Our Board is a diverse group of municipal and business representatives from across the region; 
  • We enjoy financial resources and expertise from Travel Alberta; 
  • Our growing membership is composed of a wide variety of businesses and organizations, large and small; 
  • We’re blessed with spectacular natural surroundings and eclectic attractions to promote; 
  • The tastes of the Peace Country, whether food or drink, will keep any appetite satisfied; and 
  • There’s a never-ending menu of events to suit people of all ages throughout the year. 

In the words of a song from a beloved movie, The Sound of Music, these are just a few of My Favorite Things about this position.

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support over the past few months and extend my wishes for a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.  

I look forward to working with all of you to help spotlight this region as a great place to visit in 2022! 

Message from GPRTA's Executive Director
Fall 2021

Message from GPRTA's Executive Director

Emphasis on shopping local has increased significantly in the last two years, particularly with the impact of an economic downturn followed by the chaos and uncertainty resulting from the pandemic.

The Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association encourages efforts to promote buying goods and services whenever possible from small businesses within our area.

Economic recovery within our region will be dependent on this becoming an ongoing effort, not just a short-term campaign to help companies survive.

How to keep customers coming back is something to think about as we train frontline staff and make hiring decisions.

Many factors go into determining whether to support a local business – prices, convenience, product availability, and before and other service.

There are also intangibles like the customer experience.

When people come through our doors, do we think of ourselves as Tourism Ambassadors?

Our membership survey this spring revealed more people recognize that tourism includes things like visiting local stores, gas stations, hotels, and restaurants in your own backyard.

This underlines the value and importance of all businesses providing enjoyable experiences and memories for their customers, whether they’re from down the street, taking a staycation or visiting from across the globe.

Are opportunities missed because managers or employees aren’t aware of activities or highlights to share about the region?

A simple “hello” and warm welcome could result in a conversation with visitors that finds them deciding to stay in the region longer than planned.

Talking up attractions and activities could be the difference between simply accomplishing the sale and your customer heading off to their next destination or them deciding to remain to check out what you’ve recommended. They’re quite likely to share their great experience about your establishment with others, particularly if they’re locals.

This Tourism Ambassador approach can truly contribute an economic driver.

Taking that extra time isn’t always easy, especially if you or your team are busy with customers. It requires an ongoing and consistent effort and may also mean further training.

That’s why the GPRTA, through its Destination Marketing Fund, has provided funding to the County of Grande Prairie Business Support Network to deliver the Service Excellence Blue Pin Certificate Program for customer service representatives and managers. This initiative is offered in partnership with Grande Prairie Regional College.

Funding for the 100 participants – 75 frontline and 25 managerial/supervisory – is available through the Business Network for employers looking to certify frontline or management staff. It’s also for unemployed or underemployed individuals who live or work in the Grande Prairie Region to further enhance their customer service career opportunities by completing the entire Service Excellence Blue Pin certificate.

Our staff and management are all enrolled in the program to ensure we do an even better job at welcoming visitors and do our best to extend their stay in the region.

More information on the program can be found here: https://www.gprc.ab.ca/ce/courses/index.html?cat=729

There’s no end of activities and attractions to explore in our region this fall. Check out gptourism.ca for ideas on how to spend one or multiple days checking out places you’ve never been before or returning to some old favourites. Our website is also chock full of events to take in.

Whatever you do, enjoy your Fall and stay safe!

Message from GPRTA's Executive Director
Summer 2021

Message from GPRTA's Executive Director

Tourism has survived the pandemic and is alive and well here in the Grande Prairie Region. We are so looking forward to what is shaping up to be one awesome recovery summer, particularly with Covid-19 related restrictions being lifted July 1.

Everyone here at GPRTA is excited as we anticipate the floodgates of travel opening. The trend we anticipate is this region being impacted most by people from all over the country converging to visit family and friends. We have all missed this interaction with loved ones.

Therefore, we are focusing on highlighting all the region has to offer and promoting Pride of Place discovery throughout the Greater Grande Prairie Area. We have so many amazing places waiting to be discovered, experienced and revisited.

We are also thrilled that events and other aspects are re-opening and returning very quickly to the Peace Country.

The Heritage Discovery Centre has reopened downstairs at Centre 2000, Philip J. Currie Museum is scheduled to reopen on June 24, summer camps are reopening, including Nitehawk Summer Bike Camp and others offered by organizations like the City of Grande Prairie, County of Grande Prairie, Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Grande Prairie Regional College, Centre for Creative Arts, and Art Gallery of Grande Prairie.

The Canadian Motorcycle Tourism Association’s, Rumble Alberta is underway, so we expect hundreds of motorcyclists traveling through the region and discovering what this great area has to offer.

The PBRA-BuckWild is on track for this fall and tickets are now on sale at Revolution Place Box Office. This is going to be a wild ride as Profession Bull Riders take the stage to determine who will be able to last the longest.

Later this summer, Country Roads RV will be hosting Open Farm Days, their annual Corn Maze and, new this year, their Sunflower Festival which we are all looking forward to experiencing for the first time.

We are so thankful to our dedicated members who have persevered through these challenging times, and we encourage as much as possible, to support local business to assist in their recovery.

If you live in Grande Prairie or are a visitor, please keep in mind that downtown businesses are in particular need of your patronage with Phase 4 of the Downtown Rehabilitation and Streetscapes Project underway this summer and into the fall.

This project involves reconstruction of the roadway and infrastructure on 100 Ave. from west of 100 Street to 98 Street.

Have a great summer, everyone! I look forward to seeing you at the GPRTA office or out and about at an event or attraction.

GPRTA Awards Marketing Contract
June 3, 2021 | Media Release

GPRTA Awards Marketing Contract

William Joseph Communications is the successful bidder for the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association’s three-year marketing contract.

The agreement takes effect on July 1. The firm was one of three local agencies to tender submissions. There were four proponents in total.

“Our Board of Directors and I are pleased to congratulate William Joseph Communications on their successful Request For Proposal submission and we look forward to working with them to help promote the many great things to see, do and experience in our region,” Johnathan Clarkson, GPRTA Board President.

“This firm has an excellent reputation for delivering outstanding marketing campaigns in western Canada. We’re excited to partner with them to create and implement the same for our region. As we move forward into a revitalized tourism industry, it will be important to have exceptional messaging and content to attract potential visitors from across the province, Canada, and around the globe.”

William Joseph, which recently relocated to 214 Place, is a full-service marketing agency with other offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, and Saskatoon,

“Our team is eager and ready,” says Ryan Townend, CEO, W.J. Communications. “Having worked with GPRTA over the past year, we understand the significance of this project in cementing the GP region as one that is rich with opportunities for exploration and experiences. We are passionate about growing communities and are confident that, together, we will create something truly remarkable.

“We love this region; it’s why we have a home here and continue to partner with many organizations across northern Alberta,” Townend says.

“Whether people are just passing through or are permanent residents, there’s always something to see and do, and there’s always a story waiting to be told. Our team could not be more excited to evolve the GPRTA brand, create memorable experiences, and tell those stories across the GP region, Alberta, and the world.”

The contract also encompasses digital experience upgrades, social media, content development, and digital advertising.

GPRTA President's Update
Spring 2021

GPRTA President's Update

Welcome to Spring 2021 in our region! While I’m more of a four-seasons kind of person, there’s just something special about spring – the sense of rejuvenation and change. 

As we move out of winter, GPRTA is happy to welcome Ken Loudon as our new Executive Director. Ken’s background in the tourism and hospitality industry and his significant experience in his volunteer roles with the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce and as a Rotarian will be valuable in helping GPRTA build greater connections and partnerships within the region and as we continue to work closely with our provincial allies at Travel Alberta. 

Looking back on the winter months, it was gratifying to see all the facilities and businesses – that were able to – work tirelessly to remain open, adapt and continue providing exceptional experiences, services and products to our region and community. This, without a doubt, contributeto the much-needed physical and mental wellbeing of all our residents and visitors during this difficult time. 

As we approach summer, the emphasis for the GPRTA will continue to be promoting opportunities to explore places and venues within the region that many people, including locals, may not have visited previously. 

Our Grande Plan initiative, launched last summer in partnership with area accommodations and attractions, provides a series of itineraries, from day trips to outings of a couple of days, to help travelers and residents discover some hidden gems close to home. 

One noticeable lifestyle change that has occurred over the last year is that we see many more families getting out together, even for walks with the dog or biking and hiking. 

Our recent membership survey showed a change over previous years in how participants viewed tourism. Previously, tourism was usually defined more in terms of people taking flights or going to another province or countryThis time, there was more recognition that tourism also includes things like visiting local stores, gas stations, hotels, and restaurants in your own backyard. 

This underlines the value and importance of all tourism-related businesses providing enjoyable experiences and memories and for local residents to show their pride of place when welcoming visitors enjoying a staycation or vacationers visiting our region from other places around the globe. 

I would also like to remind our members and partners that Travel Alberta has a variety of grant programs available to support both promotion and capital investment. To learn more please be sure to reach out to our GPRTA Office located at Centre 2000.  The Alberta Government has a goal of growing tourism to be a $20 billion industry by 2030, and that will require the perseverance and determination of business owners, operators, and experience creators. 

As we look forward to more Covid-19 related restrictions lifting in the coming months, we will be working with our members, regional stakeholders, and Travel Alberta to welcome visitors and quench their thirst for getting out into the wide-open spaces we all enjoy in Northern Alberta 

This is a great time to grow tourism on both the local and regional level and GPRTA looks forward to working with each of you to help highlight our region as a wonderful travel destination for visitors from near and far.

– Johnathan Clarkson, GPRTA Board President