November 20, 2012
Trois-Rivières: City's mayor involved in developing tourism
The advent of cruise ships has mobilized a great number of individuals across the tourism and transport sectors. The arrival into port of the first cruise ship at Trois-Rivières demonstrated that interest extended beyond sectoral professionals to the population as a whole. Even the mayor of the City of Trois-Rivières, Yves Lévesque, made it a point to spend the day in the company of visiting cruiseshippers, if only to ensure their satisfaction during their time in port. We met up with the mayor and asked him to relate his experience for the benefit of readers.
- Mr Lévesque, how did this initiative to attract cruise ship traffic to Trois-Rivières come about?
Well, I have been working actively with our team to enhance and embellish our city. And I am keen on promoting the city with tourists as I am convinced that Trois-Rivières has a great deal to offer and to share. We have set up an extensive investment plan to promote the city as a destination with external markets. For over five years, we have been meeting regularly with cruise line executives to showcase the city's attributes and our efforts materialized in 2012 with these inaugural visits. Our work is, of course, conducted in concert with our highly valued partner, Cruise the Saint Lawrence.
- Mr Lévesque, for how long have you been mayor of Trois-Rivières?
I have been mayor of the City of Trois-Rivières since 2001. Our new city was born of a municipal merger in January 2002 and boasts a population of 129 000. Previously, I sat on the council of the City of Trois-Rivières Ouest. I am well acquainted with maritime affairs as early in my career I was a merchant marine captain for a number of years before engaging in politics.
- How were you involved in the greeting of cruiseshippers this fall?
At dawn, I went down to the dock to greet passengers as they disembarked. I wanted to see how the day played out and made a special effort to glean comments from visiting cruiseshippers. I even went as far as purchasing a specific brand of soft drink for a passenger and delivering the goods to his cabin... to his complete and utter astonishment! That's just one example of the kind of welcome visitors can expect at Trois-Rivières. We are unique and eager to demonstrate it.
I must tell you just how much our citizens enjoyed the ship calling into port and how they spread the word among themselves to be front and present for visitors. As the ship prepared to depart at around midnight, several hundred locals were still on hand in the port to bid adieu to departing passengers. Altogether, they began to sing 'Auld lang syne' to the delight of passengers who, in turn, waved farewell from their balconies. It proved a very moving moment as you will see in the short video produced by Vincent Guilbert, a local citizen.
- What types of comments did you receive from passengers visiting Trois-Rivières for the first time?
Dockside comments from passengers were heartwarming, as were the e-mails and letters expressing appreciation for the warm welcome, historical heritage and proximity of port facilities to the city centre. I even had the pleasure of being invited aboard the Balmoral to a dinner during which a group of local singers and musicians performed for passengers. My welcome speech was met with a solid round of applause!
- What does Trois-Rivières have to offer cruiseshippers?
The City of Trois-Rivières offers a highly diversified product: urban attractions, rich heritage, numerous museums and proximity to nature. There is something for everyone, if you like! What is more, proximity to the city centre, lively outdoors terraces and welcoming cafés proved highly popular attributes on days when cruise ships were in port.
- What are the city's plans where cruiseshipping is concerned?
As I mentioned earlier, Trois-Rivières has put together an investment plan spread out over a number of years. There are projects such as the riverside promenade which has already been completed and others under way such as the amphitheatre capable of accommodating 10 000 persons outside and 3500 under cover. This project is scheduled for completion in August 2014. Another major investment that passengers will appreciate is the industrial warehouse that is being converted into an immense public and cultural market. Upon completion several years from now, the venue will feature a mix of regional food products and free shows by local performers. The market will be located only a few minutes' walk from where passengers disembark.
- What would you like to see for Trois-Rivières in the coming year?
We want to multiply opportunities to showcase our rejuvenated city to tourists. By welcoming cruise ships into port, we are able to inspire visitors to return and to talk about Trois-Rivières to their friends and families. We therefore intend to continue doing what we are doing. And now that we have welcomed our first ships, the wheels have been set in motion. We just need to keep up the good work.
Mr Lévesque, many thanks for your impressions on greeting cruiseshippers at Trois-Rivières and for your keenness to share the unique, welcoming ways of your city.