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December 18, 2017 Taber

Highway Visitor Reception Centre to open soon

Posted on May 16, 2017 by Maple Creek

Megan Roth
Twitter: @MeganMCNews
mroth@maplecreeknews.com

The visitor centre on Highway 1 will open as planned for the May long weekend.

The Visitor Reception Centre was scheduled to close, as announced by Tourism Saskatchewan at the end of January.

The Southwest community saw the closing of the centre as a blow to the local economy.

As such the Town of Maple Creek and the Cypress Hills Destination Area (CHDA) have partnered with Tourism Saskatchewan to give the visitor centre a new life.

Royce Pettyjohn, manager of community and economic development for the Town of Maple Creek and chair person for the CHDA, says the Visitor Reception Centre will open as planned for the Victoria Day weekend.

“We aren’t going to have absolutely everything in place, we are still waiting for a few things, but we will be open,” said Pettyjohn.

The visitor centre will open under the new partnership on May 20.

New showcases have been ordered for the building. These will hold what Pettyjohn called pop-up stores.

These pop-up stores will be available to retailers in the area to showcase their wares and help entice travellers to explore the Southwest.

“It will showcase the wealth of retail opportunities available just a few minutes off of the highway.”

To update the space a bit more, new artwork will adorn the walls, according to Pettyjohn.

The artwork will feature Maple Creek and the Cypress Hills.

The washrooms will also be updated, to bring in potential visitors.

“Tourism Saskatchewan has said in the past, the best way to bring in visitors is with a good bathroom,” said Pettyjohn.

By running the tourism centre as a joint venture, it gives the Southwest the direct chance to interact with 200 people everyday.

That interaction, according to Pettyjohn, will encourage them to come back to the area.

“We want to make it a point of conversion … We hope to make people aware there is things to do off the Number 1.”

As a way to attract people to stop in, the visitor reception centre will host a few hands-on events over the summer months.

These events will be a taste of what different businesses offer in the area.

One possible example is bringing the climbing wall from Treeosix to the centre.

Tourism Saskatchewan is leasing the building for just $1, and have provided a $20,000 operational grant. That money will be put towards paying the bills for the building.

On top of that, the summer students will be paid from a student employment grant.

“The government didn’t want to see it closed in the first place, but saw it as their best option. As such they have been happy to work with us, and have been quite helpful,” said Pettyjohn.

The visitor centre will be open throughout the summer, seven days a week, beginning May 20.

The hours of operation will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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