Calgary will see a bump in its tourism industry this year as Alberta’s economy continues to recover.
In its latest Travel Markets Outlook report, released on Tuesday, the Conference Board of Canada forecasts overnight visits in the city to increase 3.1 per cent this year. Close to 3.9 million tourists are forecast to visit Calgary this year.
“Pleasure travel will receive a boost with the city’s hosting of large sporting events, including next year’s hosting of the Grey Cup. Going forward, major facility and infrastructure projects, such as the newly proposed light-rail line, will help the city regain a competitive advantage by attracting and hosting large sporting and culture events,” said the report.
“Travel price inflation is projected to average 3.4 per cent this year, largely because of increased gas prices. These higher travel prices, together with increases in travel volumes, will result in overnight visitor spending increasing by a projected 6.4 per cent this year.”
The report said domestic travel to Calgary tends to be less seasonal compared with other cities in Canada. It relies the least on same-day travel and a relatively high percentage of visitors arrive by plane (21 per cent).
The city is especially appealing to young travellers, with 46 per cent of overnight visitors younger than 35, said the report.
“Pleasure travel will expand this year thanks to the city’s hosting of large sporting events, such as the FINA Diving Grand Prix this year. Business travel should receive a boost as the provincial economy grows out of the recession and profitability returns to the oil and gas sector,” said the conference board.
“New direct air capacity from a variety of carriers, including ultra-low-cost carriers, will enhance connectivity for the city and add some healthy price competition. Next year, the city’s tourist activity will get a spark from the hosting of the Grey Cup. Overall, domestic overnight visits are projected to increase by 2.5 per cent this year, with further annual growth of 2.2 per cent or higher for the duration of the forecast.”
The report said travellers from the U.S. account for less than seven per cent of overnight visits to Calgary, which is the lowest share among the metropolitan centres in the conference board’s report.
“After a strong 2017, overnight visits from the U.S. are projected to increase a further 3.9 per cent this year. Business travel should benefit from the recovery in the oil and gas sector, while both business and pleasure travel will benefit from increased direct air capacity from key U.S. states, particularly California. Over the rest of the forecast, growth is projected to average 2.8 per cent per year,” added the report.
The conference board said overseas visits are projected to grow by 6.2 per cent in 2018, followed by solid growth over the forecast horizon.
Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.