The Town of Hay River is hoping to develop and implement a tourism marketing strategy this year.
Council passed a motion on April 8 to approve a one-year, $100,000 project to create the strategy and execute its key components.
The approval is conditional on the town securing a minimum of 80 per cent of the project cost in contribution funding. The other 20 per cent – $20,000 – is included in this year’s operation and maintenance budget of the town.
Speaking later last week, Glenn Smith, the town’s assistant senior administrative officer, said a preliminary application has been submitted to a CanNor funding program for the remaining $80,000, and the town has been invited to submit a full application.
“It’s still being worked on,” he said.
Smith said the town is “hopeful” of getting funding from CanNor.
A tourism marketing strategy is different from a tourism study, he explained. “We had a 2012 tourism plan. We have an updated draft to that. But what we are looking for partially through this application is to complete a tourism marketing plan or strategy.”
Smith said it would focus on how the town should market its tourist attractions.
At the April 8 council meeting, Coun. Keith Dohey – attending by telephone – suggested that the new tourism marketing strategy look at sports tourism, which he believes has been overlooked as an important factor in the town’s overall tourism sector.
“There’s a lot of traffic there that we kind of just take for granted,” he said, adding it should be better tracked and made a part of the marketing plan.
“Obviously, our rubber tire tourism is huge in the summertime, but we haven’t really ever traditionally tracked sport tourism,” he added.
In background information provided to councillors, it was noted that Hay River has seen an increase in the number of visitors in recent years.
In 2018, the Visitor Information Centre had 4,500 visitors – a 250 per cent increase over the 1,650 visitors in 2017 and a 500 per cent increase over the 875 visitors in 2016.
A tourism marketing strategy would likely include branding, advertisements and promotion, a new town brochure, social media development, professional media kits, tradeshow materials, and videos and stock photos for various publication options.
In addition, funds would be used to update the community’s trail system, including their interpretive signage.