Visitor centre to remain open throughout the year

The City of Estevan has announced that its Visitor Information Centre is going to remain open year-round, instead of just the summer months.

The information centre was relocated from a log cabin-style structure west of the city limits to the Estevan Leisure Centre’s former concession area earlier this year. The new location opened in June.

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Since that time, the information centre has been a site where people can meet for energy tours, purchase local souvenirs and pick up information about the community. During the summer months, it was open from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Now that the information centre is open beyond the summer months, its schedule for the hours of operation will change.

“We’re going to try to have the visitor centre open when the higher traffic will be in the facility,” said Rebecca Westling, the destination marketing and communications consultant for the City of Estevan. “So Monday to Friday, we’ll be open from 4-8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, we’ll be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.”

When special events are happening, such as hockey tournaments and December’s Home Hardware Canada Cup, then there might be an altered schedule to accommodate the out-of-town visitors.

The information centre will also be selling items such as hockey tape, skate laces and other merchandise that users will need.

Westling didn’t have exact figures for the number of people who visited the information centre since it opened in June, but it’s believed that there was an increase in the number of local people who visited the site, which was one of the objectives when the centre relocated to the leisure centre.

“We want to make sure that residents of the community know what’s happening in the community, and can come and stop by,” said Westling.

Energy tours were based out of the new information centre site this year as well, and Westling reported the tour guide was busy. School tours accounted for the bulk of the activity in May and June, and then the tours involved members of the public in July and August.

The majority of the 1,197 people who visited the information centre in 2017 were there for energy tours or to use the facility’s washrooms. The centre was open from the Victoria Day long weekend in May to the Labour Day long weekend in September last year.

Estevan had been seeing a decline in the number of visitors at the log cabin in the last few years, a trend experienced by other info sites in the province. Westling believes the completion of the truck bypass in 2015 played a significant role in reduction in the number of visitors.

She described the visitors who are now coming into the facility at the leisure centre as those looking for something to do in Estevan, who are in the community already, wanting to spend some time here, and very different than the ones who were visiting the log cabin.

The city has received excellent feedback on the different items for sale inside the information centre, and for the ways in which the city is communicating with the public to promote events and attractions through its Experience Estevan blog posts.

“That’s the best way of sharing our community is the residents of our community being spokespeople for our city,” said Westling. “We want to make sure that those people know what’s happening in our community, and sharing it with their family members and their friends to come and experience Estevan.”

Since the information centre will be open throughout the year, the city will be hiring a couple of part-time employees to work in the centre. The positions will be unionized, so they will have to be posted internally before they can be posted externally.

It’s not known how this will impact summer students who have traditionally staffed the centre in the summer months.

© Copyright 2018 Estevan Mercury

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