The previous year was a busy one for the bureau as staff worked hard to streamline operations, ensuring that the same management team oversaw both P.A. Tourism and the Destination Marketing Fund (DMF).
PATMB chair Mona Selanders, who is also general manager of the Travelodge, indicated that the extra resources made available by the DMF helped the year’s biggest events run smoothly.
“It’s fabulous, because it helps conserve dollars on the administrative side and certainly provides a bigger group of people to get the job done,” Selanders said.
“We certainly needed that this year with (the) air show.”
The Centennial of Flight air show, which took place last August, was the bureau’s major focus during the first half of 2012.
Speakers hailed the show as a smashing success, with ideal weather conditions and rave reviews from vintage plane owners who stayed in P.A. hotels and were impressed by the treatment they received as well as the crowd’s enthusiasm.
“What a fabulous day that turned out to be,” Selanders said.
She added, “We all heard the single biggest criticism was there was no place to park -- and gee, if we could all have that problem, we wouldn’t be talking about budget cuts and a whole lot of other things, or becoming any leaner.”
Another major source of tourism for Prince Albert last year was a large number of conferences held in the city, such as the Organization of Saskatchewan Art Councils showcase.
Sports also made a notable contribution to the number of visitors. Selanders believed that the city had held at least one hockey tournament every weekend this winter. Like conferences, sports tournaments are a coveted source of additional revenue for local hotels and restaurants.
In her report, Selanders said that attractions at city facilities have helped draw more visitors to Prince Albert. Noting the high calibre of recent acts at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, she observed that people often travelled all the way from Saskatoon to catch such performances.
“When our Rawlinson Centre starts producing those kinds of shows -- and produces them really well, I might add -- that just gets them to produce more of them, because in the entertainment world, the entertainers like to go where they’re really treated well and they’re appreciated ... and the E.A. Rawlinson has a great reputation for all of those kinds of things.”
Given the key role of the DMF in helping organizations to host prominent events, the fund’s executive director Jayne Remenda followed Selanders’s report with one of her own.
Remenda described recent innovations to the PATMB Visitor Centre which have made the facility more visitor-friendly, installing a new widescreen flat TV and carrying more Prince Albert-specific products such as Raiders merchandise.
She suggested that the coming year would involve a careful examination of the PATMB’s existing policy and strategic plan and the development of a new marketing plan.
One idea is to adopt a more focused marketing effort that targets certain demographics. The three most significant categories of Prince Albert visitors are people visiting friends and relatives, corporate meetings, and sports/cultural events.
“Rather than just purchasing (ads) in every magazine that happens to knock on our door, we really are trying to match the market that that’s being distributed in with the target market that we’re looking at attracting,” Remenda said as an example.
Going forward, the PATMB will attempt to further increase its presence on the internet and social media.
Remenda praised the contributions and writing talents of local blogger Mara Selanders, who helped draw positive attention to the city when the DMF hired her to write the blog From P.A. With Love.
When our Rawlinson Centre starts producing those kinds of shows -- and produces them really well, I might add -- that just gets them to produce more of them. - Mona Selanders
With Mara’s recent departure to India, the question of a successor arose.
“Quite honestly, if we can’t find the right candidate, I’m not so sure that we’ll even try to do that again, because it’s very sensitive that we have the right person,” Remenda said.
Partnerships with organizations such as Waskesiu Wilderness Region, the Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District Association, the P.A. Historical Society and the local Chamber of Commerce also helped contribute to the success of tourism last year and are expected to continue in the future.
Aside from the two reports, the rest of the meeting was dedicated to procedural matters.
All suggested motions in the agenda were approved. Amy Hadley-Harris was again nominated to fill the Food Services sector seat. Board appointments for councillors Martin Ring and Mark Tweidt, as well as Flora Larson for the DMF sector seat, were similarly approved.
The bureau also appointed accounting and business advisory firm MNP as the PATMB’s auditor for 2013.
As winter turns to spring and summer, the main focus of the PATMB will be the 2013 First Nation Summer Games, which are being hosted by Muskoday First Nation.
“I think that’s coming quicker than we can even imagine,” Selanders told her audience.
“The city will be full from July 15 to the end of that week, and I think it’s going to be a fabulous, fabulous event … All of us should take the time to probably attend some of the events, and I can hardly wait. I think it’s going to be lots of fun.”