'Very excited': Jasper National Park starts welcoming visitors June 1st
EDMONTON -- Jasper National Park is preparing for a gradual re-launch starting Monday.
"Not all of it’s facilities will be available and even those that are will be somewhat restricted," said Jasper Mayor Richard Ireland. "There will still be some road closures, campgrounds are not slated to be open until June 21."
He said the same goes for local businesses.
"Hotels will be open for business again but maybe not with as many rooms and maybe with some slightly different protocols and probably in some cases without all of their amenities being available."
In a town that relies on tourism, the mayor said every business has felt the impact of closing due to the pandemic.
"Some more severely than others but everybody has certainly felt it," Ireland said.
"Normally there would be tremendous numbers of people and of course right now there aren’t and the streets are basically empty," said resident Norm Bergen.
Bergen, who is a local tour guide saw an opportunity to stay connected with tourists while everything was closed.
"We wanted to have a way to show them the most beautiful area in the world," he said.
With help from his family, Bergen created a youtube channel and website giving virtual tours of the sights and history found in the area.
“It gives me tremendous joy as a tour guide to be able to take the park into their homes,” said Bergen.
They’ve made eight videos so far and will continue to post new ones even after the re-launch.
“For those that aren’t able, or will not be able to travel for a period of time, we’re so glad that we’re able to do this and we just want everyone to stay safe and be well,” he said.
The town’s mayor expects the local economy will bounce back - but said it will take time.
“We anticipate that it will be our regional guests first who come and help us re-launch,” Ireland said.
“We think that will be followed by visitors from across Canada and eventually we will return to international travel but that is probably at least a year away.”