Tourism is starting to catch its breath in Alberta

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The tourism is starting to catch its breath in Alberta

Tourism in Alberta is approaching pre-pandemic levels (on file).

Tourism in Alberta is recovering after more difficult years due to the pandemic. While the numbers have not quite reached the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, they continue to rise.

The streets of Banff are crowded, the restaurants and bars of Canmore are full. Although the pandemic is still being felt, the tourism industry is slowly recovering, as noted by managers in the field.

[Foreign] tourists are starting to return. We have reached a point where we are very, very quickly approaching pre-pandemic sales and traffic in 2019, explains Stéphane Prévost, chef-owner of the Block Kitchen restaurant in Banff.

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“There is no doubt that tourism is important. That's what Banff is all about. The city was founded to be a tourist destination. This is what sustains the majority of the population of Banff. »

— Stéphane Prévost, chef-owner of the Block Kitchen restaurant in Banff

He specifies that his turnover in 2022 is between 80% and 90% of this pre-pandemic: We're definitely on the right track.

General Manager of the Malcolm Hotel in Canmore and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tourism Canmore Kananaskis, Andrew Shepherd, has also seen the upswing.

The number of visitors to the Canmore and Kananaskis area is almost the same as 2019.

Based on the conversations I've had with restaurateurs, hoteliers and the community, everyone is very happy with the direction the economy [and tourism] is headed. Everyone seems to be doing well in the environment, he adds.

The Calgary airport also records figures that are close to those of 2019 for the number of passengers passing through it. For the months of April, May and June this year, 3,748,301 people passed through the airport, compared to 4,451,698 in 2019.

The year last year, that number was 718,324 for the same period.

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Additionally, the average hotel occupancy rate in Alberta in June was 56%, matching 2019 levels, according to Travel Alberta.

If the pandemic has left traces in the coffers of the tourism industry, it has also changed the type of clientele, explains Stéphane Prévost.

It's one of the good things that& #x27;brought the pandemic. It has forced Canadians to visit their country […] I think national and domestic tourism will continue to be important. It's a good [mix] so far.

Stéphane Prévost believes that this greater presence of Canadian tourists will help the industry recover from the past two years.

Stéphane Prévost adds that, while it is important to find pre-pandemic turnover figures, the most notable issue remains labor shortages.

The pandemic has amplified labor issues . […] It is increasingly difficult to hire qualified workers in the field and to retain them as well. This is one of the biggest challenges, even more than the return of tourists, because tourism will resume, it's automatic, he says.

Andrew Shepherd indicates as to him that employers need to be flexible if they want to retain their employees.

Many restaurants are likely to close a few days a week to allow staff a break. When working in the beautiful Canmore area, you really have to think about work-life balance, he concludes.

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