Sylvan Lake’s 760,000 summer visitors spent about $27 million last year, says a new study.
Edmonton-based Banister Research and Consulting Inc. presented its Visitor Onsite Survey and Economic Impact Assessment of Tourism to town council on Monday night.
Based on 766 onsite surveys done over last July and August, as well as other research and economic impact modelling, the results were good news to the community, says Mayor Sean McIntyre.
“Our whole goal was to quantify our visitor impact in Sylvan Lake,” said McIntyre. “There’s been an ongoing question of what is the real benefit of tourism and I think tonight it is well outlined that the benefit is significant.”
McIntyre said the town can use the results of the assessment for future planning.
“One thing we will definitely be doing is working with our local chamber of commerce and business owners to make sure that those people coming into our community know about their business and local business owners have an opportunity to take advantage of the massive amount of visitors coming to Sylvan Lake.
“There will definitely be follow-up reports that come out of this to articulate the importance of capital investment and programs that are ongoing.”
Tourism has created the equivalent of about 600 person years of employment, said Banister vice-president Tracy With.
The overall provincial impact of Sylvan Lake’s tourism is close to $75 million, which business-to-business spending and money spent elsewhere that is connected to Sylvan Lake.
Among visitors, 81 per cent were vacationing, followed by 11 per cent who were visiting friends and family. Average spending among visitors was about $35 per person.
The average party size was 4.2 people and the average visitor stayed 1.5 nights. Almost six out of 10 visitors were aged 25 to 44.
Among the questions asked was what visitors would like to see more of in the town. Forty-three per cent suggested they’d like to see more attractions and 18 per cent wanted more sand and beach, which has been an ongoing issue in the last few years.
Of those visiting, 73 per cent were from elsewhere in Alberta. Edmontonians led the pack with 30 per cent of visitors from there, with 28 per cent coming from Calgary and 13 per cent from Red Deer.