Tourism industry professionals from across Alberta were awarded this week for excellence in visitor services and a Cochrane tourism counsellor was one of those honoured.

Suzanne Goyetche, who works for the Town of Cochrane in the Historic Downtown Visitor Information Centre, was presented with an AMMY award at the Alberta Visitor Information Providers (AVIP) conference held in Brook September 26th - 27th.

Goyetche won for Individual Excellence in Travel Consulting for providing visitors with service that is above and beyond their expectations and makes their experience memorable.

Goyetche moved from the Maritime provinces two years ago to, as she puts it, "look after grandchildren and retire."  That plan turned into a full time job with the Town of Cochrane working in the visitor centre, a job she is passionate about,

"When someone comes through the doors they're not just a visitor, they become a friend, they become someone that means something to me.  I don't do it because I want the recognition or because I want them to praise me.  I do it because that's the way I was brought up."

Goyetche says, "In Cochrane, the range of visitors that come through this town is phenomenal, Japan, Uruguary.   All over the world,"

A story she tells about a visitor from Bavaria this summer shows just how Goyetche goes the extra mile to help visitors.  In fact, this effort was going a few extra miles.

"We had a girl from Bavaria who flew over by herself and bought a motor home and was waiting for her husband to come and join her.  She landed in Cochrane and the thing broke down and I just couldn't go home and lock those doors.  She went home with me and had a great shower, we had a great walk along the beautiful Bow River.  We got to know each other and I brought her back to her camper.  I let her use the wi-fi at the centre, because, well, you're all alone.  These people are coming into a strange country.  It's not hard to be family with them."

Goyetche loves meeting people and loves talking with them.   She also doesn't mind working a little overtime for the guests.   

 "We have people, who are my age and older, biking from Alaska to Key West, Florida at 70 years of age with a little trailer on behind and a little dog and camping out.  It's phenomenal!  But when they arrive here and they're tired and discouraged and the sign on the door says open 10 to 6 and it's only 9:15 but I'm here, I open the doors for them,   When I'm here, the doors are open.  I love having them come in, sit down, relax."

Goyetche gets great joy when visitors come back to the Tourist Info Centre and say 'thanks.'  "It's exciting when visitors come back and this year I'm very proud that I had at least 15 visitors come back and thank me for where I sent them."

She was very pleased to win the AMMY award, and just a little surprised.   "I was very fortunate to be called.  It was a surprise.  There's people out there who have been working at this for years in Alberta and probably did far more than I did.  Whatever was put on that paper that said, 'this is what we're looking for,' I'm very thankful.  

Goyetche was nominated for the award by Cochrane Economic Development Officer Rob Kalinovich.  

For 2017, tourism numbers are up for Cochrane, according to Goyetche.  "In July we were over 2,000 (info centre visitors).  In August over 1,500 and though I'm just figuring out September we should hit over 1,500 for the month.  We'll be close to 9,500 for the year and that's up from previous years."

When asked her favourite place to send someone on holidays, Goyetche doesn't hesitate.  "First of all  I would convince them that you need to stay here first, you need to stay in Cochrane.  Let's get you settled into Cochrane for one day, two days, whatever,   This year it was so busy it was easy to get them to take, what I called a spoke and wheel vacation.  So Cochrane's the spoke and the wheel is letting them go out from there."