Fuel Costs Affect Calgary Stampede Visitors
The high cost of fuel isn't keeping RVs off the road, but it does seem to be shortening the distance their owners are willing to travel.
RV parks in southern Alberta say their campgrounds were full this past weekend, but most of the visitors were from within a few hours away, according to the Calgary (Alberta) Herald.
"We are not getting as many Americans and I don't think we're getting as many Europeans as last year," said Sue Gyonyor, co-owner of the Buffalo Plains RV Park near Fort Macleod, Alberta.
"We're getting more people coming from Calgary, Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, Medicine Hat. They come, but they want to stay near home."
American visitors from Texas, Ohio, Oregon, Illinois and other states were set up at Symon's Valley RV Park, but even some of these travelers had reduced the length of their planned trips.
Keith Halsey and his wife, Diane, who live near Chicago, bought a new, smaller trailer last fall hoping to save money driving to Calgary for the Stampede and then on to Alaska. But the couple decided to scrap the Alaska leg and simply take in the Stampede and Banff National Park before going home.
"It was going to cost $9,000 for fuel. We figured that would put it at $15,000 or $17,000 for the trip," said Halsey. "That's just too much."
Landon Lovig of Edmonton said he would normally pack up his family to go to British Columbia with their trailer for the long weekend, but chose Calgary instead to save money on fuel.
"We're actually on a waiting list at Pine Lake," said Lovig. "I'm going to park it there. It's just too much to haul around very far."
The Symon's Valley RV Park was full, but manager Gina Evans attributes it to the annual Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association event.
She still has space available during the Stampede, which is an unusual occurrence. And she believes it's because people aren't willing to drive longer distances.
"We used to have caravans of snowbirds here for Stampede and they're not here this year," she said.
"If they haven't booked by now, I guess they're not coming."
Calaway Park RV campground is already booked for Stampede week.
The experience at local campgrounds reflects the findings of Go RVing Canada, a coalition of manufacturers, dealers and parks.
Spokeswoman Catherine Fortin LeFaivre said half of RV drivers surveyed indicated they wouldn't change their plans due to rising prices.
The other half said the high costs would prompt them to modify their trips – shorter trips, longer stays.
"RVing is a lifestyle, not a vehicle so much," she said.
Doug Fraser, spokesman for the Stampede, said the exhibition anticipates fewer American visitors this year.
"Ticket sales indicate sales to Americans are down slightly," he said. "But it's being made up in sales to people offshore."