Central Alberta Country Drive was awarded a Travel Alberta Alto Award in the “Marketing Excellence $10 000 – $25 000″ category last week in Banff.

A diverse group of rural tourism operators in and around Red Deer County’s work to develop a new website, social media profiles and a marketing strategy with a country drive theme resulted in a dramatic increase in website traffic and more visitors to area events and attraction.

Visitors were drawn to the Country Drive experience that brought together local artisans, specialty and antique shops, food and garden and nature and wildlife operators, accommodations, museums and meat and livestock producers. Partners include rural tourism operators from Red Deer, Lacombe and Mountain View Counties and the group also received marketing support from Travel Alberta.

In addition to the new website, a Facebook page and Twitter profile was developed as well as a brochure. Radio spots were the primary offline promotional tools. Visitation to the Country Drive website rose dramatically and Edmonton and Calgary quickly jumped into the top three visitor locations.

The Travel Alberta Alto Awards are given out annually to those operators and groups that demonstrate marketing excellence in the tourism industry. The awards are presented at the Travel Alberta Industry Conference in Banff. Other recipients included Tourism Red Deer, Ice on Whyte Festival, Calgary Stampede and Banff Lake Louise Tourism.