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

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

Last year’s flood season stretched from April through early July, as this picture of flooding at Cache Creek park on July 4, 2020 shows. With area snowpacks at slightly above normal, temperatures and rainfall will play a role in determining what this year’s flood season looks like. (Photo credit: Tom Moe)
Snowpacks in area slightly higher than normal as freshet starts

Temperatures and rainfall are critical flood risk factors in coming weeks

The Clinton Annual Ball went ahead in 2020, albeit in a different format and with far fewer guests than usual. (Photo credit: Clinton Annual Ball committee)
Clinton Annual Ball postponed again in 2021, but still carries on

Thanks to some creativity, ball is still the longest continually-held event of its kind in Canada

The 2020 financial statements for Cache Creek show that the village needs to look at either increasing revenues or cutting services in order to maintain a balanced budget. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Cache Creek council advised to increase revenues or cut services

Presentation also shows that continued use of Landfill Legacy Fund for operations is unsustainable

A group of outdoor enthusiasts and heritage buffs learning more about the history of the iconic 1926 Alexandra Bridge during a pre-COVID-19 tour. (Photo credit: Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning)
A group of outdoor enthusiasts and heritage buffs learning more about the history of the iconic 1926 Alexandra Bridge during a pre-COVID-19 tour. (Photo credit: Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning)
Major grant will help refurbish historic Alexandra Bridge near Spuzzum

The 1926 bridge, which last saw vehicle traffic in 1964, is major attraction on Fraser Canyon drive

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Most Read