Lethbridge tourist organizations prepare for busy winter season

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge tourist organizations prepare for busy winter season'
Lethbridge tourist organizations prepare for busy winter season
Lethbridge tourist destinations are preparing for Old Man Winter as seasonal event are now kicking off. Micah Quintin checks in with local organizations to discuss what kind of numbers they're hoping to see this year, and how 2023 did – Nov 24, 2023

The winter lights are almost ready to be turned on at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.

The annual event that sees around 170,000 lights spread across the property welcomed close to 31,000 guests in 2022.

Executive Director Michelle Day Miles expects to see a few more in 2023.

“We’re hoping to have about a three to five per cent increase in attendance this year. I mean, with the winter light festival, it’s always unique, because it’s always weather dependent.”

Click to play video: 'Navigate Ken Reid Conservation area by glowing holiday lights this December'
Navigate Ken Reid Conservation area by glowing holiday lights this December

Meanwhile, over at the Agri-Food Hub & Trade Centre, there’s a new indoor light festival as the traveling exhibit “Glow” is now underway.

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CEO of the Lethbridge and District Exhibition Mike Warkentin says ticket sales are exceeding expectations.

“The overall buzz about this event in the community is stronger than probably any event I’ve seen in the community, which is now about five and a half years.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta tourism sector appears to be bouncing back'
Alberta tourism sector appears to be bouncing back

The larger-than-expected crowds continue what other local organizations experienced in the summer and fall.

Manager of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre, Coreen Putman, says they recorded an increased number of interprovincial tourists during the months of September and October.

“September was actually off the charts. We saw about a 30 per cent increase in our visitation over what we’ve seen in previous years.”

Recent numbers from the province found $10.7 billion was spent in the Alberta tourism sector in 2022, up $600 million from 2019.

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While CEO of Tourism Lethbridge, Erin Crane says these numbers are great for Alberta, she’s taking a cautious approach knowing inflation continues to hamper the industry.

“It’s great to see tourism rebounding. We don’t really call it fully recovered yet because we know we still have a really long way to go, and that there are some challenges that we continue to face.”

As part of the province’s tourism recovery plan, Travel Alberta’s budget was increased in 2023 from $63 million to $73 million over the next three years.

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