May 1 is generally the first day that most business owners in Waterton National Park open for the season.
This year most businesses in Waterton have been forced to delay welcoming visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Shameer Suleman operates two hotels in the area and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and said that it’s been a tough start to the season.
“May is tough,” Suleman explained. “To open three weeks later is different.”
He planned to open before the May long weekend and said with his rates discounted around 30 per cent, the added delay is hard.
“It’s been a challenge and struggle to only be open five months and then to take a 30 per cent haircut off the top. It’ll be a challenge and even at 30 per cent off, it’ll be years before Waterton businesses are able to bounce back.”
Travel Alberta said the provincial visitor economy suffered a single-year drop in 2020 of $4.9 billion, which is a 48 per cent decrease from 2019.
Deborah Spence, Manager of Stakeholder Engagement and Communications with Travel Alberta, said that it’s impossible to predict what visitation will look like at destinations in the province this summer.
“With the latest guidelines encouraging us all to stay close to home, we are encouraging Albertans to adhere to the restrictions so we may be safe to explore our province again soon,” Spence said.
“We are hopeful that current health measures and vaccinations will pave the way to more freedom for Albertans and other visitors to explore the province this summer.”