Sweet 16 tourism campaign launched

Tourists and locals have 16 weekends to have some summer fun in Central Alberta, from the May long weekend to Labour Day.

Tip Toes a 8-year-old African Spurred tortoise

Tip Toes a 8-year-old African Spurred tortoise



INNISFAIL — Tourists and locals have 16 weekends to have some summer fun in Central Alberta, from the May long weekend to Labour Day.

On Monday, Central Alberta Tourism Committee officially launched its Alberta Sweet 16 campaign and will highlight one event each week on its website — www.albertasweet16.com — as well as provide information on about 1,300 other Central activities and attractions.

“We believe there is an event listed on the site for everyone to enjoy,” said Dean Schweder, chair of Central Alberta Tourism Committee at the campaign kickoff at Innisfail’s Discovery Wildlife Park.

It’s the third year that municipalities and communities have worked together on the committee that includes Innisfail, Lacombe, Ponoka, Red Deer County, Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler, Sylvan Lake and Wetaskiwin, and Tourism Red Deer.

“Instead of competing against each other for visitors’ attention, we’re working together promoting this area of the province as one,” said Schweder, who is also tourism and economic development co-ordinator for the Town of Rocky Mountain House.

Visitors to the website doubled from 9,000 in 2008 to 18,000 in 2009.

As part of Alberta Sweet 16, 20,000 postcards will be sent to homes in Calgary and Edmonton, and Alberta Sweet 16 has also joined Facebook to gather feedback.

Discovery Wildlife Park has opened for the season with some fresh faces among its 50 species.

An elk was born last week and a Japanese snow macaque was born about three weeks ago. Two reindeer were born one month ago.

Head zoo keeper Serena Bos is also eager to show off an eight-year-old African spurred tortoise named Tip Toes to educate the public. He was donated almost two months ago by someone who couldn’t keep him any longer.

“Tortoises are a fad right now with the general public. They buy them when they are the size of about a toonie and they think that they’re going to stay small because that’s what they’re told,” Bos said.

The breed can grow up to 45 kg (100 pounds), with a shell 45 cm in length (18 inches). They like to be on the move and will dig through drywall and lawns.

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