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

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

MONTREAL — 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.

“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.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)

Jon Victor, The Canadian Press

Tourism

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

Just Posted

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Robichaud welcomes members of the Liberian Coast Guard aboard the HMCS Moncton for training with Royal Canadian Navy off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, Africa. (Contributed photo by Corp. Ryan Moulton)
Red Deer-raised woman finds her sea legs as commander in the Royal Canadian Navy

Cdr. Nicole Robichaud started out as a local sea cadet

Rode
Feddema adds size and grit to RDC basketball Queens

Iris Feddema has known for several years what she wanted her future… Continue reading

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in the sky over north Red Deer on Wednesday. (Photo contributed by Eric Fischer)
Photo: Planes criss-cross over Red Deer

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

A man injects hydromorphone at the Providence Health Care Crosstown Clinic in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
NDP lawmaker tables bill to decriminalize drug use as overdose deaths soar

NDP lawmaker tables bill to decriminalize drug use as overdose deaths soar

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Low-carbon bucks: Conservatives pitch consumer carbon pricing through savings account

Low-carbon bucks: Conservatives pitch consumer carbon pricing through savings account

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo responds to a question about vaccines during a weekly news conference, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Ottawa. Njoo says a faster vaccine ramp-up alone would likely not have thwarted the third wave of COVID-19 in many parts of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Evan Siddall is pictured in Ottawa on September 21, 2017. Former head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Evan Siddall has been named as the next chief executive for Alberta Investment Management Corp. He will succeed Kevin Uebelein. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims addresses the airline's annual meeting in Calgary, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

The TMX broadcast centre is shown in Toronto on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

A man wearing a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 checks his phone as the sun sets in English Bay in Vancouver on April 5, 2021. Canada's existing mobile phone services and consumer groups will get a landmark ruling from the CRTC this afternoon. The regulatory ruling could shift some of the market power held by Rogers, Bell and Telus, which collectively have more than 90 per cent of the country's subscribers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

Most Read