January 28, 2016 7:50 pm
Updated: January 28, 2016 10:04 pm

Weak dollar spurs U.S. travelers to book up Alberta, BC back-country getaways

WATCH ABOVE: While Alberta's economy continues to struggle with low oil prices and layoffs, the tourism industry is booming. That's actually helping businesses in mountain communities - like Golden, B.C. - to create jobs. As Mia Sosiak reports, even some of the most remote areas in the mountains are benefiting.


CALGARY — A spike in tourism numbers in Banff, driven by the low Canadian dollar, is spreading west beyond the Rockies, including into the backcountry.

The Purcell Mountain Lodge, about 20 kilometres west of Golden, British Columbia, is a long way from anywhere.

But almost every week this winter, the luxury backcountry hotel is booked full of ski tourists, and it’s 40 per cent full for the summer hiking season.

The owner says half of the daily booking inquiries are coming from the United States.

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“It’s huge — they don’t even really care about early booking discount or some specials,” Sunny Sun, an Edmonton businessman, said. “It’s, ‘do you have space? OK, we book now.’”

A Florida-based ski journalist who visited the lodge on a media tour Wednesday said a trip to Canada makes sense right now.

“The Canadian-U.S. dollar exchange will allow (Americans) to get a real bang for their buck,” David Sartwell said.

Sartwell adds the U.S. economy has been steadily growing since 2008, and there is pent-up demand to travel. The spectacular scenery in Alberta and B.C. makes the area attractive to Americans.

“The highest mountain in Florida is 80 feet,” he laughed. “They come to Canada and they see this and go, ‘oh my, this is so beautiful’.”

The strong U.S. dollar is also ringing up vacation spending throughout western Canada, including in the town of Golden.

The B.C. mountain community, about three hours west of Calgary, is having its best tourism year in a decade, just as tourism numbers are on the rise in Banff and Canmore.

Between 2014 and 2015, online interest from places like the U.S. and the U.K doubled, according to Tourism Golden.

This summer, Golden hotels were packed.

Tourism officials said it isn’t just Americans visiting.

Many Canadians are choosing to vacation in their own country, because their money goes further.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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