A new Port Hardy tourism initiative will see locals greeting tourists to ensure they receive a warm welcome to the community.
“Primarily the purpose is to offer tourists a genuinely heartfelt welcome – The type that only a person who loves their town can deliver,” Elizabeth Aman-Hume, Executive Director of the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce.
The program dubbed Port Hardy Ambassadors is a pilot project run by the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Centre.
“The Port Hardy Ambassadors become the front line in welcoming and greeting visitors to our community and we will be seeking out visitors in shopping areas, marinas, and other gathering places in town,” said Aman-Hume.
“Anywhere you go if you are greeting with a smile and information that is always a good thing,” said Lynnette Tanka, who’s coordinating the program, adding “I feel like that’s very valuable and makes someone want to return.”
Aman-Hume said they already have someone who has volunteered to greet flights at the airport.
“Imagine getting off the plane and there is someone there saying ‘Hi welcome to Port Hardy’ and they are not trying to sell you anything and are just welcoming you,” said Aman-Human, adding “I would love for them to go back where they came from and say ‘you got to go to this place the people are so friendly.’”
Tanaka explained the program will be comprised both of visitor services staff and volunteers who can choose to work either in the Visitors Centre or as ‘roving visitor counselors’ that seek out tourists around town.
Businesses will have the opportunity to participate as well. Tanaka said local businesses can get involved by having someone set up a booth in their business to greet visitors there.
“We are looking for ideas from business too,” explained Aman-Hume, adding “What that will look like really is a process we will go through in planning with the business.”
Aman- Hume said that those participating in the program will receive training and be provided with materials they can hand out to tourists.
She said last year the Visitor Centre had over 10,000 tourists come through their doors from May to September, so community outreach will have a big impact.
“I just think its a great way for the community to get on board and get involved with the tens of thousands of people that are coming here every year,” said Aman-Hume, adding “We love meeting these people from all over Canada and all over the world and I really believe that other people in our community would enjoy doing the same.”
Aman-Hume said they plan to fine-tune the program after the first year once they see what works and what doesn’t.
“We want it to be fun – fun for the volunteers and fun for the people coming here,” added Tanaka.
Aman-Hume and Tanaka said they are excited to see the kind of response they receive from the program.
Those interested in the program can check out www.porthardychamber.com for more information or contact Lynette Tanaka at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-949-7622.