Tourism director sees great potential

A woman with more than 21 years in the tourism industry will return to Red Deer to take over the helm of Tourism Red Deer.

A woman with more than 21 years in the tourism industry will return to Red Deer to take over the helm of Tourism Red Deer.

Liz Taylor will start her new posting on April 1 after spending 12 years as managing director with Travel Alberta Regional in Edmonton, her most recent position.

Taylor said she’s thrilled to be returning to Red Deer where she has family. She sees tremendous growth potential since Red Deer currently generates $258 million in tourism revenue annually, according to a recently completed Tourism Impact Study.

By September, she hopes to have a business plan developed. She has no plans to “waltz in” to the job with a lot of new ideas but rather will gather input.

“The first thing I’m doing is really meeting with the Red Deer businesses,” said Taylor on Thursday.

“I really need to understand what the businesses are, what the priorities and needs are. And from there, we’ll be developing a business plan and really defining our strengths.”

Taylor said it’s important to speak with one voice.

“It’s important to be out there because Red Deer has been quiet and the (members) really haven’t worked a lot together on a lot of projects,” she said.

She would like to develop programs that benefit Tourism Red Deer’s members, around 250 businesses and individuals in the Red Deer area.

Taylor takes over as Tourism Red Deer’s executive director from Darren Kuz, who left for a position with the City of Red Deer.

Outgoing Tourism Red Deer chair Erin Gobolos said the selection committee was looking for someone with a lot of “building experience.”

“She did this very successfully with Travel Alberta Regional,” said Gobolos.

During her tenure with Travel Alberta, Taylor helped develop a number of programs, including the Travel Alberta Speaker Series.

She also played an active role in the development and ongoing growth of The Growing Rural Tourism Conference, now in its 12th year at Camrose.

“She definitely had the cross-functional marketing skills that we were looking for,” said Gobolos.

Gobolos added that Taylor worked for an organization that created incentives for travellers like Travel Alberta This Week, Hot Holiday packages and the Holiday Card.

“We could easily envision adopting similar partnership initiatives as we develop new programs for our region.”

Tourism Red Deer received about 25 applications for the job and after extensive interviewing, Taylor came out on top.

Taylor was introduced during Tourism Red Deer’s annual general meeting this week. Lisa Francoeur of the Capri Centre was named as the new chair of Tourism Red Deer.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com