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Jasper businesses ‘best of the best’

Cutline: Jasper Planetarium and Tourism Jasper came out on top at this year’s Alto Awards  | Travel Alberta photos

Fuchsia Dragon | publisher@fitzhugh.ca

Two Jasper companies won big at Travel Alberta’s Alto Awards ceremony this week.

Alto Awards recognise ‘the best of the best’ in Alberta tourism and celebrate the province’s strong industry.

“Alberta is exemplified by determination, optimism and ingenuity, and our tourism operators are perfect examples,” said Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, at the award ceremony in Banff on Monday.

“We salute their efforts to showcase our beautiful province and the wonderful stories in it, and the work they do to help grow our economy, create jobs and support strong, vibrant communities in every corner of the province.”

Jasper Planetarium won this year’s award for Alberta Pride for its planetarium and telescope experience.

The experience helps you follow the footsteps of great explorers, First Nations peoples and astronomers, all by looking up to the night sky in Jasper National Park.

Guests can step into the soft-sided geodesic dome theatre to sit down and look up, night-or-day and enjoy images, storytellers and swirling constellations. 

And outside the theatre, peer through powerful telescopes to see the solar system in real-time.

Peter McMahon, general manager for the planetarium, said: “Myself and the other owners, Paul Hardy, Scott Eady and Shayne Brooking are deeply honoured and thrilled to be recognised with this tourism award for Jasper Planetarium after all the years of work we have put into the business.

“It is a testament to this town and the enthusiastic staff that pass that on to the stargazers every day.”

Also on Monday, Tourism Jasper won the Marketing Excellence up to $20,000 award thanks to its successful Summer 2018 Vacancy Alert newsletter.

The newsletter was launched to help fill cancelled rooms in Jasper over the busy summer months and publicized last-minute rooms available.

Vacancy Alert maximized occupancy, brought in more visitors, closed a communication gap in the regional market and earned positive feedback from shareholder hotels. 

And following a $400 sponsored post on Facebook, the newsletter had 1,308 sign-ups and resulted in a six per cent average decrease in vacancy rate.

James Jackson, general manager of Tourism Jasper, said: “We could not be prouder to accept the marketing excellence award and to be recognized by our provincial tourism colleagues. 

“It is really a testament to the outstanding work the Tourism Jasper staff do every day to promote Jasper. 

“In the end, we’re stewards of the Jasper story, and we’re very proud that our collective story is being celebrated.”

The Alto Awards are held annually in conjunction with the Travel Alberta Industry Conference to honour industry partners who “demonstrate excellence in experience development, marketing and service delivery, helping ensure tourism remains an important economic driver for the province”.

The Altos were awarded in 11 different categories and more than 500 industry partners attended the ceremony in Banff.

 Two for two

It was two wins in one night in two cities for Jasper Planetarium manager Peter McMahon.

McMahon’s new book, The Space Adventurer’s Guide, scooped a Lane Anderson Award for children’s science writing in Toronto the same night as the Altos.

The Space Adventurer’s Guide, illustrated by Josh Holinaty from Kids Can Press, is a travel guide for kids to plan their own out-of-this-world journeys.

There are eight potential space vacations described, one per chapter, complete with information about pre-trip preparations, accommodations, dining and activities.

And the book begins with an introduction to current advances in space travel (including the current cost of a rocket trip) and a guide to key space lingo that will have kids talking like an astronaut in no time.

The Lane Anderson Award, created by the Fitzhenry Family Foundation, honours the best science writing in Canada in adult and young reader categories. 

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