A NEWS RELEASE
From National Office of the ELCIC
Winnipeg, June 23, 2003 (ELCIC) -- Local tourism officials and hoteliers are primed to extend the welcome mat for the global village that will make Winnipeg its home for 10 days in July.
Cheery red "Welcome/Bienvenue" ribbons will be distributed to a spectrum of hospitality workers who will be on the front line to encounter the estimated 1400 participants of the Lutheran World Federation's Tenth Assembly. The Assembly, which meets July 21-31 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, will attract first-time visitors and delegates from many parts of the world. A body of international journalists is also expected.
The ribbons will act as an ice-breaker while being worn by a variety of hotel, restaurant, attractions and convention staff who have been briefed on the international gathering, according to Penny McMillan, director of tourism for Destination Winnipeg, Inc, the city’s economic development and tourism agency
The ideas is that visitors will see that there are people in Winnipeg who clearly have been expecting them, and the visitor will be encouraged to come and ask a question. McMillan noted that the ribbons were first used successfully during the World Curling Championships in April.
"We all like to be recognized,'' she continued. ``It's a way to spark some conversation . . . it's just a good thing.''
The ribbons will proclaim that "Winnipeg (is) the Warmest Place to Meet," and feature the name of the conference. They will be distributed to employees of members in the marketing partnership called Team Winnipeg.
Helen Halliday, general manager of the Delta Winnipeg that abuts the convention centre, said the international Lutheran assembly is the hotel's "major reference point" for the summer. "We've been talking abut this conference for a year,'' she said.
Halliday noted that she has even gone so far as to contact hoteliers in Hong Kong, the site of the last LWF Assembly in 1997, to anticipate the dynamics arising from an international meeting of this size and length.
Her employees will be briefed as to any special needs of the estimated 450 LWF participants who will occupy 250 of the hotel's 393 rooms for up to two weeks. Workers in guest-contact positions will sport the eye-catching 'Welcome" ribbons under their name tags. Several of the behind-the-scenes help, many of whom are recent immigrants to Canada, may also be enlisted to offer special service as impromptu translators and unofficial ambassadors, she said.
"We enjoy it when we get to know our guests and become connected,'' said Halliday. "Relationships get established and that's fun."
The LWF Assembly, which is held every six years, will be hosted by the Winnipeg-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Founded in 1947, in Sweden, the Switzerland- based LWF has 136 member churches in 75 countries, representing nearly 95 percent of the world’s 65.4 million Lutherans.