The Whitehorse Visitor Information Centre first opened its doors in 1996. Since that time it has greeted thousands of visitors arriving by land, sea and air.

Located in downtown Whitehorse at 2nd Avenue and Lambert Street, there is ample parking for RVs, tour buses, family vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles.

Seven staff are available seven days a week during the summer months. They are there because they love their job and they love promoting the Yukon. Known as the “Women of Whitehorse” or “WOW”, Els Lundgaard, centre supervisor, shares these thoughts:

“We’re very excited about working with people because it’s the people who bring energy into our day.

“We know we contribute to their visitor experience. They take away awareness and appreciation for not only Whitehorse, but Yukon in general.

“It’s amazing the number of people who tell us, ‘We were just passing through, we didn’t think there’d be so much — it’s wonderful!’

“It is comments like that they take back to their family and friends all over the world.”

Lundgaard tells us they even have a song: “We’re the Women of Whitehorse, we’re always in the know, ask us any question, and we’ll tell you where to go.”

Considering these women of the Whitehorse Visitor Information Centre have seen and done it all, no wonder they are the perfect ambassadors to promote the Yukon to our visitors. Between them, they have 200 years of experience in the travel and customer service industry.

They understand six languages — English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Danish — and they make available brochures in English, French, German and Japanese.

“We even have Alaskan,” Lundgaard says with a playful smile.

The only Yukon Visitor Information Centre open year-round, Whitehorse staff have on hand more than 50,000 brochures and pamphlets that market events, festivals, hotels, B&Bs, youth hostels, restaurants, cuisine, tours, ferry schedules, maps and more.

“Along with excellent advice on what to see and do throughout Yukon communities, it is a one-stop shop for visitor information and services.

Whether it’s watching the movie, As the Crow Flies, or asking to see any of a number of other DVDs on bear safety, the Yukon Quest or the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, there is a wealth of information available at the centre.

“We tell them about the best fishing spots and wildlife viewing points of interest,” Lundgaard says. “We offer information on where to bike, hike or camp. We tell them where to find a relaxing spa, a manicure, a pedicure or a great facial.

“The Women of Whitehorse freely share their knowledge and expertise.”

The Whitehorse Visitor Information Centre is a one-stop shop for other information, too. Hospitals, showers, propane, Internet cafés, sites and attractions, road and weather reports found through 511Yukon, wild land fire bulletins, places to worship, activities for children and information on community sports are all available in their arsenal of information provided through print materials, on-hand binders and the Internet.

“It is our love of customer service that gives meaning to the visitor experience,” Lundgaard says. “For many, this is their first trip North and some have saved for years to make their trip of a lifetime.

“We know that, we appreciate that, we understand the importance of quality customer service. And we do our part to make their stay the best it can be.”

Lundgaard says with a smile, “The gratitude, the stories, the anecdotes and sometimes the confusing questions all add up to expecting the unexpected as we help visitors find the information they need to know.”

Alicia Debreceni and Karen Keeley are communication officers with the Department of Tourism and Culture. This summer series will introduce readers to the Visitor Information Centres throughout the Yukon.

PHOTO: TONY GONDA, YUKON TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT