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a shot of a downtown jasper street with the mountains in the background
Road Trip Alberta

Fancy Shipping Container To Welcome Visitors

New mobile unit in Jasper is equipped with touchscreens and travel counsellors to improve experience for visitors

The Visitor Experience Centre didn’t grow legs and walk to Patricia Street in Jasper; it was brought in by crane, which is almost as cool. The mobile unit arrived on April 27, 2023, and will be a transportable temporary centre.

“In theory, it could move. We don’t plan on moving it. It’s going to be there for a couple of years,” Tyler Riopel, Director of Destination Development with Tourism Jasper, told the Fitzhugh.

The Visitor Experience Centre is intended to provide enhanced space for visitors to learn about Jasper. The centre was built by Honomobo, an Alberta-based company that repurposes shipping containers into homes and bars.

A shipping container may not sound impressive, but this hunk of steel comes equipped with some fancy bells and whistles. This includes touchscreens that can be used for research and book experiences.

The new Visitor Experience Centre set to open this month in Jasper | Fitzhugh

“It’s really going to be a focus on creating experiences for visitors instead of just handing out information,” continued Riopel.

Riopel hopes to create a guided experience where visitors have access to readily available information. There will also be travel counsellors present to help visitors directly.

“Our team of summer travel counsellors are passionate about Jasper and excited to share their tips and tricks on how to explore like a local,” commented Meg Olson, the Visitor Experience Centre’s Coordinator.

In addition to enhancing visitor experiences, Riopel believes the centre will create breathing room for Parks Canada staff and Tourism Jasper to tackle tourism in the town better.

Jasper is expected to see pre-pandemic tourist levels of up to 160,000 visitors this summer. The town is going to need all the help it can get.

However, Jasper needs help finding employees. The local employment and education centre had 458 job postings in early April.

Keep in mind the town only had a population of around 4,100 in 2022.

Jasper Mayor Richard Ireland believes limited housing and expensive rent are partly to blame. The housing crunch puts off potential workers and makes it challenging for existing workers to stick around.

The Mayor warns that the tourism experience may look slightly different this summer.

“(Restaurants) may be closed at periods of time so that they can provide the service that the visitor expects when they are open — but they simply can’t be open all the hours that they would want,” said Ireland.

The Visitor Experience Centre is planned to open over the May long weekend once the exterior finishes and an inspection are complete.

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