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Alberta prepared for another summer without international tourists

Last Updated Jun 18, 2021 at 8:19 pm MDT

CALGARY – Come July 1, Alberta is all set to reopen for the summer, yet due to the current federal restrictions in place, Americans won’t be able to attend the Calgary Stampede and visit Alberta.

“At some point in July, we can begin receiving folks who have been fully vaccinated, as long as they do a PCR test,” said Premier Jason Kenney. “We will work with the federal government to accelerate that. But in terms of Stampede, they are not expecting many out of province visitors this year. I think their projection is that 90 per cent of the visitors to Stampede will be Albertans.”

In a statement to CityNews, Stampede officials say:

“Our planning has been done with the understanding that international guests would most likely not be attending this year’s Stampede, which traditionally amounts for 12 to 15 per cent of our attendance. So, today’s announcement really has no impact.”

Yet the Calgary Hotel Association says they will lose business, something they were not prepared for.

“Twenty hotels in (Calgary) sent letters to Premier Kenney, asking for his voice on the reopening of the border, so we are disappointed to hear about the border staying closed, and potentially, we won’t have international visitors here for some time,” said Sol Zia, the executive director of the Calgary Hotel Association. “We already don’t have corporate travel, we don’t have meetings in conventions so we need further support to motivate folks to travel within the province.”

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And Calgary is not the only region hit by a lack of international tourists this summer.

In a statement to CityNews, the Banff and Lake Louise Tourism Association say:

“We are counting on the return of international visitors for a full recovery of the economy in our community. We need a plan from the federal government as to when and how borders will open up to us and international visitors, which are typically a significant portion of our visitor makeup in the summer. That said, we are currently focused on the domestic market, and are looking forward to welcoming Canadians this summer.”

Some economists say there is always a way to boost tourism, and with Alberta reopening soon, the government needs to step up for the tourism industry.

“They are going back to full business as usual in the next little while here, so the fact is, that conceptually you can replace those lost American tourists during Stampede with Canadian tourists,” said Moshe Lander, an economist from Concordia University. “So, it is possible that you can put on something that is reasonably safe without causing an economic disaster for the Stampede, it’s just a matter of thinking creatively right now and reaching out to the rest of Canada.”