Monday, August 04, 2008

Canadian Tourism Numbers Heading South

Calgary Herald Monday, August 04, 2008

Rising fuel costs, a strong Canadian dollar and a sagging United States economy have Alberta tourism operators feeling the squeeze of shrinking numbers of American visitors this summer.

Kurt Schroeder, director of sales and market development for Banff Lake Louise Tourism, said U.S. tourism in the national park has decreased to the point where they are considering shifting marketing to attract more overseas visitors.

Although the percentage of visitor volumes are only down by "single digits" compared to last year, he said there's a threat it could move into double digits.

Like many businesses that cater to tourists, Symon's Valley RV Park just north of Calgary is turning their focus to regional travelers. "We've had to rely on the ball tournaments and big groups to fill the park," said RV park manager Gina Evans.

However, Alberta campgrounds closer to cities are generally faring better than those that require additional driving, said Dave Kaiser, president and CEO of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association.

"What they're seeing different this year over last year is people coming and staying put. That, I think, speaks to gas prices. They're getting to a place and saying 'we'll stay here rather than move campground to campground,'" said Kaiser.
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