Hotel trade boosts traffic

A strong year for Red Deer’s hotel sector in 2012 helped push occupancy rates toward pre-recession levels.

A strong year for Red Deer’s hotel sector in 2012 helped push occupancy rates toward pre-recession levels.

Statistics provided by Tourism Red Deer show that an average of 55.7 per cent of the available rooms in the city — including Gasoline Alley — were booked last year. That compared with 51 per cent in 2011.

The increase was good news for the tourism industry, said Liz Taylor, executive director of Tourism Red Deer.

“We upped our occupancy by almost five per cent.”

That jump followed a similar rise from 2010, when the local hotel occupancy rate was 47.1 per cent. The figure in 2009 was 46 per cent, following the onset of the economic downturn.

The local occupancy rate in 2008 was 58 per cent.

During the first half of 2013, the hotel occupancy rate in Red Deer slipped to around 55 per cent. But Taylor thinks this number will improve by year’s end.

“We believe it might even be up.”

This optimism is supported by traffic on the Tourism Red Deer website, which is a good indicator of the interest and intent of prospective visitors.

Trevor Tessier of e-marketing agency SBX Media, which administers the site, said visits are up about six per cent over 2012 — despite declines in May and June.

“August we’re up about 35 per cent alone,” he said.

Tessier and Taylor speculate that unseasonably cool weather this spring deterred some travellers, and the flooding in Southern Alberta may have also had an impact.

“A third of Alberta’s population was kind of preoccupied and not necessarily in the travel mood,” said Taylor, adding that many people who live away from the flooded areas also devoted time and resources to help the victims.

Tessier thinks activity on the Tourism Red Deer website could still end up 20 per cent above 2012 levels, which in turn were 47 per cent higher than in 2011.

“We’re confident we’re going to end the year strong,” agreed Taylor.

C.V. Sastry, assistant general manager at the Black Knight Inn, confirmed that 2012 was a good year for Red Deer’s hospitality industry. This year has been slower at his hotel, due to renovations and other site-specific factors, but Sastry is anticipating more good years ahead.

“We definitely are more optimistic,” he said. “I think overall in Red Deer we do have more tourists coming in.”

Sastry cautioned that year-over-year comparisons of hotel occupancy rates can be misleading, because the number of rooms can change.

Taylor agreed, noting that the 2008-09 drop-off was exacerbated by an increase in local hotel rooms. Since then, Hampton Inn and Suites and Holiday Inn & Suites have opened in Gasoline Alley.

“There’s been an increase in supply, and there’s certainly going to be a further increase in supply,” she said, pointing to the new Marriott TownPlace Suites being built in northwest Red Deer, and a Holiday Inn Express and a Staybridge Suites proposed for another location nearby.

A Microtel Inn and Suites has also been approved for Gasoline Alley.

Taylor pointed out that the city’s occupancy rate is on the low side, compared with other centres in Alberta. Calgary, for instance, posted a 70.5 per cent average last year. The figure for Edmonton was 66.5 per cent, in resorts like Banff and Jasper it was 56.4 per cent, and the average for the rest of the province was 61.5 per cent.

However, Red Deer had the greatest year-over-year increase in occupancy rates from 2011 to 2012, noted Taylor.

“We’re getting there, but we’re still below.”

Red Deer is also on the low end when it comes to average daily room rates. Its figure of $107.65 in 2012 compared with $156.04 in Calgary, $122.42 in Edmonton, $196.10 in resort communities and $120.79 for the rest of the province.

Taylor said the high cost of hotels rooms in Fort McMurray pulled up the provincial average.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,183 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

50.5% of all active cases are variants of concern

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie pose for a photo at the Mirror restaurant. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Alberta Health Services delivers ‘closure order’ to Mirror restaurant

Alberta Health Services says it has delivered a closure order to a… Continue reading

Flags bearers hold the Canadian flag high during the Flags of Remembrance ceremony in Sylvan Lake in this October file photo. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
New project to pay tribute to Canadians killed in Afghanistan

Flags of Remembrance scheduled for Sept. 11

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
Security and police block the entrance to GraceLife Church as a fence goes up around it near Edmonton on Wednesday April 7, 2021. The Alberta government has closed down and fenced off a church that has been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules. Alberta Health Services, in a statement, says GraceLife church will remain closed until it shows it will comply with public-health measures meant to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — Hundreds of people are gathered outside an Alberta… Continue reading

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces is developing contingency plans to keep COVID-19 from affecting its ability to defend the country and continue its missions overseas amid concerns potential adversaries could try to take advantage of the crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian special forces supported major Iraqi military assault on ISIL last month

OTTAWA — Some Canadian soldiers supported a major military offensive last month… Continue reading

A woman pays her repects at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The joint public inquiry in response to the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced a mandate that includes a probe of the RCMP response as well as the role of gender-based violence in the tragedy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Creating permanent memorial to Nova Scotia mass shooting victims a delicate task

PORTAPIQUE, N.S. — Creating a memorial for those killed in Nova Scotia’s… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Erin O’Toole says ‘I didn’t hide who I was’ running for Conservative leader

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole assured Conservative supporters that he never hid who… Continue reading

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, second from left, celebrates his goal with teammates, from left to right, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, of Sweden, during second period NHL hockey action against the Edmonton Oilers, in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Jacob Markstrom earns shutout as Flames blank Oilers 5-0 in Battle of Alberta

CALGARY — It took Sean Monahan breaking out of his goal-scoring slump… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia's opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan's government, but they say Monday's throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province's economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s opposition parties acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented… Continue reading

A grizzly bear walks on a treadmill as Dr. Charles Robbins, right, offers treats as rewards at Washington State University's Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center in this undated handout photo. Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails like those commonly used by people, which can affect land management practices in wild areas, says an expert who has written a paper on their travel patterns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Anthony Carnahan *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Grizzly bears prefer walking on gentle slopes at a leisurely pace like humans: study

VANCOUVER — Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails… Continue reading

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna said Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, its COVID-19 shot provides strong protection against the coronavirus that's surging in the U.S. and around the world. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
The COVID-19 wasteland: searching for clues to the pandemic in the sewers

OTTAWA — When Ottawa Public Health officials are trying to decide whether… Continue reading

Most Read