Wet Weather Altering Alberta Tourism Patterns

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July 23, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

Orange pin marks the location of Grande Prairie in western Alberta. Google Map

The numbers are in and it appears that the tourism scene is a little backward this year in parts of Alberta.

The Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association said the number of American and international tourists are down this season, but the number of Albertans traveling internally to Grande Prairie has actually risen by 26%, the reverse of what has been seen in previous years, the Daily Herald-Tribune, Grand Prairie, reported.

“The campgrounds have all been full but we’re seeing more Albertans traveling than Americans this year,” said Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association’s executive director Ainsley Lamontagne.

Why the increased number of Albertans taking advantage of the different attractions is a bit of a mystery. Lamontagne said it could have to do with the flooding in the south. As for the decrease in Americans, statistically speaking, she couldn’t say.

“The flooding down south probably changed a lot of people’s plans. It certainly made it difficult for travellers who were traveling by road, they had to detour around,” she said. “Maybe (American travelers) have gone north through British Columbia instead of through Alberta like they would regularly do. … Destination USA has been marketing heavily for Americans to travel in America, so maybe that has made a change.”

Despite the number of American travelers being down thus far this summer, Lamontagne said she expects the numbers to increase in August, when the city hosts the Native Fastball championships. Most campgrounds, she said, are already fully booked.

“(They’re) coming a little earlier and normally we see a far amount of Americans doing the Alaska route and maybe just because the weather was a bit better earlier this year, they were doing it then and we’ll see more of them coming back in August which normally we don’t see them until that bit later.”

In September, Grande Prairie will host the Alberta Visitors Information Providers (AVIP) conference. The meeting will bring together several managers and executives of visitor information centers from across the province. With all the information centre reps coming to the area, Lamontagne said she hopes it’ll encourage them to talk more about Grande Prairie.

“So I’m hoping to see, after that… even more numbers coming from inside Alberta,” she said. “You cannot accurately sell a location to anybody else without having that chance to really enjoy it yourself.”

Currently, the tourism association is working on a tourism strategy as well as working on promoting the city’s 100th anniversary celebration. She said tourism staff have booked tables at nine trade shows in order to talk about the city of Grande Prairie and promote the regions attractions and events.

City and county council members will also be welcoming a statistician who created a model of the province that keeps track of the number of visitors and the impact on the province’s economy to the area in August.

“He actually made a model of Grande Prairie,” said Lamontagne. “He’s coming to do some hands-on training and meet with city and county council to work on economic impact of events in Grande Prairie.”

The model will help city and county councils decide where they should be putting their investments in tourism because they’ll be able to see the economic impact from each event prior to make an investment decision.

The tourism strategy, being developed in collaboration with the department of economic development, should be ready for action in spring. Lamontagne said, once the election is over, the will begin working on utilizing the strategy with the city council.



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