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Tourism industry longing for return of tourists

Last Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 8:37 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — It’s been a rocky road for top Canadian tourist destinations like the Rocky Mountains but with more vaccines going into arms daily, the industry is ready for a rebound.

“All of the data that we can see right now is that middle and upper middle-class folks have saved money throughout this crisis and the pent-up demand for travel is enormous,” said Travel Alberta CEO, David Goldstein.

But will they spend that cash in Canada?

“I think that there is going to be a strong group that is going to give international a pause,” said Joe Pavelka, a professor in Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership at Mount Royal University. “In order to attract Canadians, the question is going to be: What are you doing that’s novel? What are you doing that’s a little bit different?”

READ MORE: How do border communities navigate inter-provincial travel recommendations?

Pre-pandemic, the Alberta tourism industry was estimated to be an $8.2B business with 68,000 jobs — with a lot of that activity linked in some way to Calgary.

“COVID has had a huge and disproportionate impact on this sector. Tourism expenditures for 2020 were own by half,” said Goldstein.

So getting those international tourists back will be key.

“I think we’re going to experience a pretty strong inbound rebound,” said Pavelka. “We are safe, we are largely outdoors.”

READ MORE: Alberta announces legislation that would allow workers to take paid time off to get a COVID-19 vaccine

It’s likely a unified national tourism plan will emerge from COVID but that could take years, so it’s up to provinces, cities, and towns to make sure they’re prepared for the post-pandemic traveller.

“Communities are not yet prepared to host tourists and all the marketing in the world is not going to change that,” said Pavelka. “So, it really implies a fundamental shift in how tourism is viewed and managed in this country.”