Why Banff tourism is booming with a busting economy

CALGARY – A record number of tourists are visiting Banff this season, thanks to the low loonie, cheap gas, and warm weather. In fact, despite the economic downturn in the province, some businesses in the resort town say this is their busiest season yet.

“I don’t think that the lack of snow in the area in the city has really affected us at all. Still lots of destination visitors, and we’ve been busier than we ever have been actually it’s one of the strongest winters our shop’s has ever seen,” said Soul Ski and Bike owner Andrew Matergio.

Rental shops like Matergio’s say they’ve been bustling with both ski and bike rentals thanks to the low temperatures.

“Family day was pretty crazy for us, it’s been a long time since we’ve run out of rentals and this year we definitely ran out of rentals,” he said.

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Tourism officials said about 25,000 vehicles drove into Banff Park on Family Day – close to summer levels of traffic.

“It’s been healthy. I think we’ve got for the most part a lot of smiles on most of our tourism community’s faces. It’s been quite good,” said Kurt Schroeder with Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

Dave Riley, the chief operating officer at Sunshine Village ski resort said even with less snowfall than usual, there’s been an increase in customers since last year, especially those coming from outside Canada’s borders.

“We are really heavily dependent on international traffic, largely from the U.K., Australia, Europe, and the United States,” said Riley.

The low gas prices have also made regional getaways appealing; Matergio said he’s had lots of visitors from across Canada’s provinces as well.

Though it won’t make up for Alberta’s estimated $7-billion shortfall this year, the mountain parks make a positive contribution to the province. Tourism contributes an estimated $6 billion to Alberta’s economy each year.

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