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Hay River's Hay-Cation promotion described as a success

Peter Magill, the tourism and economic development co-ordinator with the Town of Hay River, holds Hay-Cation postcards, which were printed as part of the town's staycation initiative.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

A staycation initiative launched in June by the Town of Hay River appears to be having its desired effect.

The campaign – called Hay-Cation – has the goal of encouraging people in other NWT communities to visit Hay River, particular from areas close enough to drive to the Hub.

It was created because of the lost tourist traffic from the South due to Covid-19 restrictions at the Alberta/NWT border.

"We've heard of a lot of traffic in many cases coming from Yellowknife," said Glenn Smith, the senior administrative officer with the Town of Hay River.

Smith noted the town has been getting reports that there's a lot of traffic at campgrounds, the golf course and the newly-reopened Fisherman's Wharf market.

Plus, he noted the town's Visitor Information Centre has been seeing a fair amount of territorial traffic coming through its doors

"Certainly something is having an impact," he said. "We're quite happy to hear about this traffic coming in and spending some dollars in what has been a year impacted significantly by the Covid situation, especially with respect to cross-border traffic."

Peter Magill, the tourism and economic development co-ordinator with the town, also believes Hay-Cation is having a positive impact.

"Quite a few of the people coming in, and predominantly from Yellowknife, have heard of the Hay-Cation program," he said, noting it has been promoted on radio and through newspaper ads in the capital city.

Magill noted that Hay-Cation ties in well with the Spectacular NWT staycation initiative.

"So I think those two pushes into the media have really made a big difference and are certainly making people aware that they can take a short trip down here and there's lots to explore," he said.

Magill said the aim is to position Hay River in the minds of territorial tourists as a perfect location to explore not only its attractions and adventures, but also the South Slave region.

"There's so much here in the whole South Slave that I think is the big drawing card," he said.

Both Smith and Magill anticipate that Hay-Cation will carry on past this year.

"That is the plan," said Smith. "We've been able to procure some posters and postcards and digital graphics. Our plan is to continue to use that promotion into subsequent years."

The town worked with Outcrop Communications of Yellowknife in creating the Hay-Cation marketing effort, which will run to the end of August.

It is expected that between $6,000-$7,000 will be spent on the campaign.