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.

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

Just Posted

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Pub patio in Victoria reopens with widely spaced tables, June 2020. Restaurants and pubs across are restricted to take-out and patio service only until May 25 at the earliest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Don’t travel outside your region, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

The former C&C Wood Products mill will begin producing products again later this month, under new ownership. (Observer file photo)
Williams Lake-owned company to restart production at bankrupt specialty mill in Quesnel

President of Kandola Forest Products says he expects to fill 90 full-time jobs by end of year

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
80-million-year-old turtle find on B.C. river exciting fossil hunters

Remains of two-foot creature of undetermined species will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Most Read