City ambassador Mona Selanders’ tourism efforts recognized

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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It was a no-brainer that the inaugural Prince Albert Tourism and Marketing Bureau Lifetime Achievement Award go to Mona Selanders, Jayne Remenda concluded.

 

“She loves people and she understands the whole hospitality thing,” Remenda said.

“I think that everybody in this community knows Mona Selanders and knows how involved she’s been, not only in the hotel and hospitality as her employment, but with tourism overall in the community.”

A who’s who of the community gathered at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club on Friday to honour Selanders, who humbly noted prior to receiving the recognition that she’s only been in Prince Albert for 16 years.

“I think I’m hugely surprised, because, I mean, I haven’t been in Prince Albert for a lifetime, yet,” she said with a chuckle that those who know her will easily recognize.

For Selanders, 16 years has been enough to make a significant impact on the city and surrounding area, Remenda said.

In addition to her day job as general manager of the Prince Albert Travelodge, Selanders has long served the city’s tourism centre, “leading the organization in its many different forms over many years,” Remenda said.

Selanders was also instrumental in forming the Destination Marketing Fund, which Remenda is currently executive director of. This organization collects user fees from member hotels in an attempt to market the city for various events.

This organization has been key to attracting a number of significant events in recent years, which have brought millions of dollars worth of economic spinoff into the area.

In addition to these main efforts, Remenda said that one would be hard-pressed to find a significant city event that Selanders hasn’t helped bring to fruition.

“She’s just dedicated her whole life to the tourism industry, not just here in Prince Albert but in southern Saskatchewan when she was down there, as well,” fellow tourism steward Deb Honch said.

An educator, restaurateur, hotel manager and Moose Jaw mayoral candidate, Selanders said that she’s known since her early 20s that tourism is where she wanted to be.

“It’s fun,” she said -- a simple all-encompassing point she placed a few seconds of emphasis on.

“I just can’t think of anything more fun than the things people do when they travel away from home.

“They’re looking for things to do, and so you get to showcase your community every time you talk to somebody who’s not from there.

“Saskatchewan is such a fabulous place, and people who live here don’t even know that, so if I get to expose or get people to explore Saskatchewan from a tourism side, that’s just fun.”

Regina Delta Hotel general manager Jim Kilkenny has been credited with providing Selanders the job reference that landed her the Travelodge general manager position that brought her to Prince Albert almost 16 years ago.

As far as he could tell, the employer had no other option, Kilkenny relayed on Friday.

“Passionate, dedicated, committed -- when I thought about all the things … there has never been a better ambassador for this province than Mona,” he said.

I think that everybody in this community knows Mona Selanders and knows how involved she’s been, not only in the hotel and hospitality as her employment, but with tourism overall in the community. Jayne Remenda

“If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life, and I think that’s typically true of Mona for her entire illustrious career.”

Representing the city on behalf of mayor and council, Coun. Martin Ring called Selanders “one of the sellers of Prince Albert.”

“She has been a tremendous leader of our Prince Albert tourism since its inception,” he said. “Mona certainly carried that torch very high and we can’t thank you enough, Mona.”

Reflecting on her decision to take residence in Prince Albert, where she raised her daughter, Mara, Mona said that she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“Prince Albert is portrayed in the media, often, as a city with a whole lot of issues, and I say -- well, that’s true, but the issues are simply relative,” she said.

“All communities have issues, and Prince Albert has just been a fabulous place to live.”

Close to an expansive forest, rife with enough civic facilities to satiate anyone’s athletic or artistic aspirations, Selanders concluded that the only real challenge to attracting people to Prince Albert is in getting the message out there.

“I think that we’re almost there,” she said. “The good news is we’ve got some really strong leadership in tourism and the Destination Marketing Fund is making a difference in the ability to attract people.”

Remenda said that one particular story sticks out when it came time to make the obvious decision to commend Selanders with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

A young hockey team was staying at the Travelodge for a hockey tournament over a Remembrance Day long weekend, she relayed.

“The boys were getting on the bus, and Mona stopped the coach and said, ‘It’s Remembrance Day, these boys can’t show up without poppies,’” Remenda said.

“Mona stood at the door with a bucket of poppies and pinned each boy as they got out the door.

“Who does that? A (general manager) at a hotel standing at the door pinning poppies on people!”

Calling Selanders “Ms. Hospitality,” Honch said that Selanders could be a “Destination unto herself sometimes”

“She’s wonderful character and such a welcoming and hospital persona and I think she just embodies what tourism is all about.”

In addition to receiving a Prince Albert Tourism and Marketing Bureau Lifetime Achievement Award, Selanders was honoured on Friday with a star blanket courtesy of the Northern Lights Casino.

Prior to wrapping Selanders in the star blanket, Northern Lights Casino general manager Richard Ahenakew explained the honour.

“When you wrap an individual in a star blanket you wrap them in the hopes and dreams of the best wishes of the community and all her friends and family.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Destination Marketing Fund, Regina Delta Hotel Northern Lights Casino

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Southern Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw

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