The green waters of Moraine Lake are pictured in Lake Louise, Alberta, June, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The green waters of Moraine Lake are pictured in Lake Louise, Alberta, June, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘Save summer’: Tourism business have modest expectations ahead of crucial season

‘The mantra right now is ‘Save summer”

Tourism businesses around Banff and Lake Louise rely on the critical summer months to sustain themselves throughout the year, earning around 50 to 60 per cent of their revenue between June and September, the local tourism association says.

But this year, with continued restrictions on travel and just a fraction of Canadians having received a vaccination against COVID-19, tourism businesses in the area are just hoping to get by: Only 50 per cent of local businesses expected this summer to be as good or better than last summer, said Leslie Bruce, president and chief executive officer of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism.

“The mantra right now is ‘Save summer,’” Bruce said. “This summer is going to make it or break it for people.”

The organization that oversees tourism for Quebec City agrees it expects this summer to be similar to the last in terms of business, with visitors mostly coming from within Canada, said Marie-Pier Richard, a spokeswoman for the Office du tourisme de Quebec.

The cautious projections for summer, the period when tourism businesses earn revenues that can make or break their year, stands in contrast to expectations among some of a rebound in economic activity later this year.

With the vaccine rollout underway nationwide, Canadian airlines have been partially restoring their domestic schedules ahead of an expected uptick in the spring and summer months. In March, WestJet and Air Canada announced plans to restore flights to destinations in Atlantic Canada and Western Canada, after eliminating routes in various service cuts throughout the fall and winter.

Low-cost carrier Swoop also announced it was adding flights from Kelowna, B.C. and Abbotsford B.C. to Edmonton, Toronto, Hamilton and Winnipeg, and Flair Airlines has expanded its fleet to capitalize on what it expects will be strong demand.

ALSO READ: ‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

“Our summer schedule expansion is in response to strong advance sales and in anticipation of demand from Canada’s most price-conscious travellers as they look towards the accelerated pace of vaccine rollouts across the country,” Swoop president Charles Duncan said in a statement.

Still, the threat of a new wave of COVID-19 infections driven by more contagious variants of the disease has already prompted more severe restrictions in places like Quebec City, which is once more in lockdown after officials briefly loosened restrictions in the area. That could dampen tourism even as increasing numbers of Canadians are being vaccinated.

The country’s tourism industry desperately needs the additional business. Statistics Canada said last week that the Canadian tourism sector’s gross domestic product shrank by nearly half in 2020, compared with a 5.4 per cent drop in the overall economy in 2020.

Tourism jobs fell 28.7 per cent in 2020, with most of the drop occurring in the second quarter, the agency said.

Destination Canada, a Crown corporation whose mandate is to promote domestic tourism, has said the situation facing the country’s tourism industry is worse than the combined effects of the Sept. 11 attacks, SARS and the global financial crisis. The organization has called for Canadians to help offset the hit to the industry by travelling domestically as much as possible once it becomes safe to do so.

Continued restrictions on international travel, including mandatory testing and quarantine requirements for new arrivals, might prompt travellers to search domestically for vacation spots. However, airlines are expecting the federal government to loosen some of the restrictions on international travel by the time they are scheduled to resume flights to many destinations in May.

James Jackson, president and chief executive officer of Tourism Jasper, said the national park in the Canadian Rockies is expecting high demand from domestic travellers, but not enough to make up for the loss of international travellers, who on average spend more when they visit.

Despite some businesses, like hotels, having to limit occupancy due to COVID-19, Jackson said he expects tourism businesses to see small increases in revenue compared with 2020. Tourism Jasper is “aggressively marketing” in other parts of Canada to convince them to visit, an effort that has been aided by the addition of more flights to the area in recent weeks, Jackson said.

“We have a captive market in Canada,” Jackson said, “and for remote leisure destinations, counterintuitively, that bodes well.”

Jon Victor, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe at Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Health inspectors and RCMP locked doors early Wednesday

Premier Jason Kenney (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. An Alberta woman in her 50s has died from a rare blood clot disorder after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta confirms blood clot disorder death linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been linked to VITT in a very small number of cases

Premier Jason Kenney says with COVID-19 numbers still rising, the province’s health-care system will be tested in the coming weeks. (photography by Winston Pon/Office of the Premier)
‘Please stay home’: Kenney imposes new COVID-19 restrictions

New measures will be in place for at least three weeks

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine can be given to adults 30+ who can’t wait for mRNA: NACI

Panel says single shot vaccine can be especially useful for populations unable to return for second shot

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is prepared at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for kids 12 to 15 years old in Canada

The vaccine was previously authorized for anyone at least 16 years of age or older

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to speakers appearing by video during a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada will align policy on ‘vaccine passports’ with international allies: Trudeau

Trudeau says Canadians could begin travelling outside the country again by summer

Ranging from 11 to 20 in age and representing seven provinces and one territory, the plaintiffs are appealing a Supreme Court judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit last fall. (David Suzuki Foundation)
15 youths not backing down in their fight to sue Ottawa over climate change inaction

The group has filed an appeal after their lawsuit was struck down by a Federal Court judge last fall

A 2021 census questionnaire. (Black Press Media file photo)
2021 census responses due May 11

By law, every household must complete a census questionnaire

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi attends a senior’s home in Calgary on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Nenshi says he’s frustrated to hear that tickets given to people for breaching COVID-19 public health orders are being thrown out in the courts.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘Incredibly frustrating:’ Calgary mayor wants courts to uphold COVID-19 measures

Large groups without masks have been gathering in Calgary public spaces in protest of health measures

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
NACI advice on ‘preferred vaccines’ for COVID-19 sparks confusion, anger

Panel said that people who can wait for an mRNA vaccine should do so

Michael Bonin, 20, from Alberta, was discovered deceased on Peers Creek Forest Service Road north of Hope on April 20, 2017. (Black Press Media)
1 of 3 accused in 2017 murder of Alberta man pleads guilty, sentenced to life in prison

Joshua Fleurant pleaded guilty in a Kelowna courtroom to the second-degree murder of Michael Bonin

Most Read