The ‘Take It To The Lake’ campaign is nominated for the Repsol People’s Choice Award in the 2019-2020 Awards of Excellence program put on by Economic Developers Alberta.
The campaign, which is put on by Lac La Biche County in collaboration with the M.D. of Bonnyville and Town of Vermilion, puts northeastern Alberta on the map by telling the region’s story through a social media based marketing campaign.
“What we realized is that while yes, it was a fantastic advertising and marketing campaign it really benefited us growing our tourism economy from within our own communities,” said Jana Rowe, an economic development officer with Lac La Biche County.
She said the growth in local tourism-related businesses has actually been one of the biggest impacts the campaign had, in addition to increasing the overall number of visitors to the area.
“I know in Lac La Biche alone, we’ve had two new operators that opened up business. And we worked with them this year to make sure that they get a good start to their business,” said Rowe.
She said part of making sure those businesses get a good start is ensuring they are ready to accept visitors with things like advance bookings and paying in advance.
“That’s ultimately what we need to have in order to be a tourism destination. And the more experiences, the more operators, the more accommodations we have, the better it is,” said Rowe.
She noted in the M.D. of Bonnyville, one of the specific increases in tourism they were able to attribute to the campaign was a 30 per cent increase in the campground occupancy.
According to Rowe, when people go on vacation, especially a road trip they rarely just go to one place.
She said all the communities involved in the campaign are part of the larger travel route tourists would stop along for lunch, gas, or the opportunity to stretch their legs on the way to the lakes they use for swimming, boating, fishing and other recreational activities.
She said another positive they saw with the campaign was how showcasing the communities changed the local narratives.
As an example, Rowe talked about the social media comments on a video about La Bone’s Kitchen & Bar in Lac La Biche which were overwhelmingly positive, even from people who no longer live in the community.
“They’re not here anymore, but it’s just that that pride of who they are. And so it really helped to try to start and make us realize that we do have a fantastic place. Every place has its ups and downs, but at the end of the day, we’ve got a gorgeous home,” said Rowe.
While the 2019-2020 campaign is the one nominated for the award, Rowe said even in 2020 they were able to continue to grow the collaborative efforts, which have been ongoing since 2013, by adding Athabasca County and Métis Crossing to the campaign in 2020.
She said winning the award would be a good accolade for the group because “it really gives us more of that credibility when we approach other businesses, other communities within our region, to participate with us, because the truth of it is, is that we want it to grow, we want to have every community in the northeast to be a part of it, showcasing who they are and what they have to offer.”
You can show your support by voting online on the Economic Developers Alberta website. Voting is open until Nov. 26 at 2 p.m. ‘Take it the Lake’ is entry 11 by NE Collaboration.