It was a whirlwind tour that would have impressed the most efficient of travellers.
After an early-morning visit to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame & Museum, participants in the Red Deer Experience Expert Training program boarded a bus and headed for Fort Normandeau. From there, they continued on to Sunnybrook Farm & Museum, Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery, downtown Red Deer and Discovery Wildlife Park — arriving at Heritage Ranch in time for lunch.
Each stop featured a comprehensive guided tour, with the travelling time in between spent learning about other Central Alberta attractions.
The 22 people who took part in Wednesday’s tour emerged with a Red Deer Experience Expert certificate and lapel pin, and a greater awareness of what Central Alberta has to offer visitors.
That awareness is what Tourism Red Deer was striving for when it organized the program.
Designed for front-line workers in the hospitality sector, it should make it easier for tourists to find out what they can do and see in the region, said Liz Taylor, Tourism Red Deer’s executive director.
“Our long-range goal would be that we would have all front-line workers there,” she said, listing service station attendants, taxi drivers, retail clerks and restaurant staff as good candidates for the training.
Most of those who took part this week were hotel workers, said Taylor, but there were also customer-service staff from other businesses.
Some were seeing the local attractions for the first time, she noted, and expressed surprise at what they’ve been missing.
“They were really impressed with Fort Normandeau, and the same with Discovery Wildlife Park.”
Another highlight was the tour of downtown Red Deer, with city historian Michael Dawe providing his insights.
“He just makes the history come alive,” said Taylor.
A similar tour is scheduled for May 22, and Taylor hopes the training will be offered annually.
It actually started last June, with a workshop that included customer service training and presentations on local attractions.
Feedback from that event indicated that those taking part wanted more information about those sites, which led to this year’s bus tours.
Only some of Central Alberta’s attractions could be included, acknowledged Taylor, but participants received a package with details about other places of interest.
The Red Deer Experience Expert Training program was sponsored by Hotels Red Deer, the City of Red Deer, Red Deer County and Pursuit Adventure & Travel.