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comes right from tourists and is then invested back into the area, making it a very effective way for operators to maximize their marketing budgets.


“This money helps us pay for things like brochures, visitor’s guides, and our online campaign,” said Thienes. “This new website is becoming a fantastic resource for anyone who is looking to travel to our area, a one-stop site where they can access all of the information they would need to plan an exciting trip.”


Cypress Hills Destination Area administration wants area to be a tourist target


By Jessi Gowan


Destination Area Inc. are aiming to bring together operators from across the region to work as a unit to more effectively market Cypress Hills and the surrounding area.


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“Essentially, this group is a marketing umbrella for operators in the area,” explained Kristy Thienes, Marketing Coordinator with CHDA. “We are trying to become the official tourism group for this area, including places like Shaunavon, Eastend, and Maple Creek, providing a website portal where tourists can access all of this information in one place.”


The group was formed in 2007, after Tourism Saskatchewan identified Cypress Hills as one of their key tourism destinations. Local experience providers in the area began looking at what the area had to offer, and agreed that the best way to take advantage of the assistance from Tourism Saskatchewan was to work collaboratively. From there,


ith a new website geared to promote tourism in the southwest, the Cypress Hills


they developed a plan to incorporate the group as a Destination Marketing Organization, and began encouraging local operators to come on board.


“Just last fall, we were officially incorporated, and things have been going full steam since then,” Thienes noted. “It’s been going very well, we’ve had a really good response. It’s very beneficial to our operators, who might not have been able to afford marketing opportunities like this on their own. Being a part of this can help them participate on a grander scale.”


Kristy Thienes is working hard to make the southwest corner of Saskatchewan a major destination area.


As is common practice in most other regions, CHDA operators charge a 3% tourism fee on top of their regular admission fees, to help cover the marketing costs involved with drawing tourists to the area. This small fee


16 SOUTHWEST PROGRESS REPORT 2013


The website was only launched this spring, but has already seen over 12,000 hits. Although it currently provides a wealth of valuable information to tourists, plans are to continue to expand the site even further. Tourists can access trail maps, campground maps, and driving routes, and can easily find where to stay, what to eat, and what to do while they are in the area.


“Our operators are featured on these pages, with links to their own sites if they have them,” Thienes explained. “We also have featured activities, which have been really popular so far. Where to go golfing in the area, where to go fishing, where to go horseback riding – we are even putting together vacation packages to include some of these activities.”


Another work-in-progress is an events listing page, so that upcoming events and festivals such as the Frenchman River Gospel Jam can provide their information on the site as well. That


way, when tourists are planning to be in the area, they will be able to see an overview of what kinds of events will be happening during that time – and even buy tickets online.


“All of these website features are really not only benefiting the tourists coming to town, who don’t have to visit a bunch of different websites to plan their trip, but the operators, as well,” noted Thienes. “This will increase their bookings and ticket sales as well, and we are already starting to see that happening for our operators.”


Right now, CHDA is focused on the Saskatchewan side of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, but they are looking to involve the Alberta side, as well as Elkwater, and other surrounding attractions.


“It’s really important for an area of this size for everyone to work together, for all of these groups to have one website, one resource, and to offer that information right at a tourist’s fingertips,” said Thienes. “We are focusing not just on the park, but on the entire destination area. While Cypress Hills is a great attraction on its own, there are tons of other great things to see throughout the region.”


Fort Walsh has a lot of fun activities and is very interactive. Here, actors portray Northwest Mounted


Police in a portrayal of a battle. File photo


The Cypress Hills Provincial Park in Saskatchewan is a picturesque area popular with thousands of


campers and travellers. The new aerial tours by Great Circle Airways from Maple Creek airport to historic Fort Walsh, which started on Aug. 10, 2013 will fly over some spectacular scenery. Pictured is the main resort area in the Cypress Hills centre block, as seen from a 1957 DeHavilland Beaver airplane.


Photo by Matthew Liebenberg


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