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Tourism Calgary encouraging staycations, local tourism this summer

Tourism Calgary pushing local tourism and staycations this summer
Tourism Calgary is pushing local travel and staycations this summer. With the Calgary Stampede and festivals cancelled this year, the tourism industry hopes locals explore our own backyards — and keep every local dollar in Calgary. Christa Dao reports.

It’s no doubt the tourism industry is a big moneymaker for the city of Calgary, but with public health orders and recommendations to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s an industry that has been one of the hardest hit.

Tourism Calgary said it will be focusing its efforts on local tourism, pushing for staycations and exploring our own backyards in Alberta.

According to Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady, the industry brings in about $2 billion for the city. The Calgary Stampede generates about a quarter of that.

READ MORE: Town of Drumheller welcomes back tourists as Royal Tyrrell Museum reopens

Ady said the remaining $1.5 billion is mostly generated during the summer months and it’s why the organization is encouraging all Calgarians and Albertans to stay within the province and explore attractions locally.

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COVID-19 pandemic forces cancellation of 2020 Calgary Stampede
COVID-19 pandemic forces cancellation of 2020 Calgary Stampede

“I think it’s going to be important that we sustain and support those local businesses that have been hurt so badly, that are starting to open their doors and are inviting guests,” she said.

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“The message is… we are lucky to be here. Let’s enjoy home this year in the way of beautiful parks, being nestled against Kananaskis and the Rocky mountains. We can still get outside, and we can do it safely.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What does Banff look like without international tourism?

Ady said with the loss of summer staples like the Calgary Stampede and festivals, the impact is going to be huge.

“We’re having to shift and change. Will there be a recovery of those dollars? No,” she said. “Not this year. But we are encouraging businesses that can reopen to become somewhat sustainable as we move into 2021 and have an opportunity to see a resurgence of what might look normal.”

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Small businesses face uncertain future after Calgary Stampede cancellation
Small businesses face uncertain future after Calgary Stampede cancellation

Attractions like Heritage Park saw the grill and bakery pivot to curbside pickup in order to survive. On Wednesday, retail shops in the plaza reopened to the public.

Scott Matheson with Heritage Park said the attraction is slowly reopening and is expecting to fully reopen by mid-July.

READ MORE: Alberta tour operators prepare for a year of losses

Matheson said they’re looking forward to getting some of their guests back.

“I don’t think we’ll hit our target for revenue just based on some of the changes. There are so many different offerings like weddings, banquets, private functions which are still very limited. We’re expecting to see small crowds but at the same time, we’re looking forward to getting our guests back,” he said.

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“We’re looking forward to the summer months and having Calgarians and Albertans who are having staycations.

“Things will be a little bit different as they are everywhere, but it’s going to be great.”

The Glenbow Museum said it’s working on a plan to reopen with the proper safety precautions in place to ensure everyone has a healthy visit.

“We are looking at the feasibility of reopening over the summer, which will depend on availability of a consistent supply of PPE to keep our staff safe and comfortable, as well as some necessary adaptations to our existing operations, ensuring a sustainable approach for our reopening,” the museum said.

“We’re planning carefully and looking forward to when the time is right to reconnect with our community in person.”

Tourism Calgary is encouraging people to check back on its website, Facebook and Instagram as they feature places, restaurants and other attractions that are reopening.