New numbers show how hard Alberta's tourism industry has been hit by coronavirus
EDMONTON -- A year and a half after opening, the pandemic forced the new Royal Alberta Museum to close. But in May, the museum welcomed back visitors with enhanced safety measures including timed admissions.
“In order to make sure people have a good experience and a welcoming experience and they feel they’re safe here. That’s a major priority for us,” said Alwynne Beaudoin, director of natural history for the museum.
New statistics from Travel Alberta show a considerable decline in visitors to museums and historic sites this summer, down 82 percent in June, 77 percent in July, and 76 percent in august.
“It’s not a crowded space anymore there’s lots of opportunity for people to distance from each other,” Alwynne said.
Hotels have also hard hit. Revenues are down 66 per cent in July.
“Hotel occupancies were probably down you know 50 per cent plus in the resort areas, and certainly if you look at cities like Calgary and Edmonton, significantly down,” said Shelly Grollmuss of Travel Alberta.
International travellers are almost non-existent, but the industry has been bolstered by domestic travel. Visitors to Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes National Parks reached 1.2 million in august, down just nine per cent year-over-year.
“Definitely strong visitation from Albertans in the province, but we know that it’s going to be really challenging heading into the fall and winter season for sure, as we rely on Albertans a lot again for the remainder of the year,” said Grollmuss.
By the end of 2020, Travel Alberta predicts pandemic-associated job losses will reach more than 45,000, raising Alberta’s unemployment rate an additional 1.8 per cent. The message to Albertans is keep supporting local as much as you can.
“Come say hello to my buddy here the Edmontosaurus, he’s very welcoming and would love to see a lot more visitors,” said Beaudoin.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg.