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Canadian Summer Tourism Ready for Last Long Weekend Push

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Destinations across Alberta (Canada) are at their final long weekend push before a new season starts.

According to a report, Heritage Park, a family-friendly historic destination has made its return to full service coming out of the pandemic and its numbers have bounced back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

It’s been a welcomed revival for the park following its drastic cut back on operations in the past couple of years.

“It really puts the wind in your sails to know that your guests haven’t forgotten who you are and what you’re offering them,” said Dominic Terry, strategic communications manager at Heritage Park.

The long weekend marked by Alberta Day on Thursday and Labor Day on Monday will give Heritage Park a final opportunity to get momentum going into the winter and fall programming.

It’s been the same story in the tourism industry across Alberta this summer.

Darren Reeder, who was recently appointed president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta, said recovery is evident most evident in the hotel industry data.

Reeder said that the average daily rate for a room in Alberta in July was CA$207, up 40% from July 2021 and up 7% from 2019. In Calgary, those numbers were even stronger with the highest July occupancy rates since 2013.

The long weekend isn’t going to slow down either, with Alberta Day festivities last  Friday and Saturday at Prince’s Island Park, which included live music and dance performances, food trucks, and beer gardens.

The biggest hurdle ahead is the ability to bring conventions and business travel to return to the previous levels. Often, they are referred to as the first to go out of business and the last to recover due to the level of planning and logistics involved. A positive sign is that Calgary will host 11 conferences and meetings in September, a jump from seven in the year 2019 and nine in the year prior.

Many people are also taking the weekend to go camping or relax in the mountains before the weather begins to turn cold.

Banff National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park are expecting the normal crush of guests this long weekend.

Both are coming off strong summer seasons on par with pre-pandemic numbers. Waterton did not see a big dip in its visitors over the last couple of years, but in Banff, numbers increased this summer, including its highest attendance since 2013 in July with 694,127 independent visitors through the park gates.

The numbers are largely due to border restrictions loosening for international travelers, though Paul Shaw, manager of corporate communications for Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, said international tourism is not yet back to its pre-pandemic levels. 

This story originally appeared on Calgary Herald.

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