Tourism To Calgary Strong As Hotel Rooms Sold For Stampede Trends Upward

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It’s only partway through the Stampede, but the number of hotel rooms booked across the city is already on pace to exceed last year’s record-setting tally.

The official figures won’t be available until the end of the month, but the Calgary Hotel Association says this year’s 10-day festival is trending to outpace the 2017 edition, which saw 140,000 rooms booked and beat the 2016 mark by 11,000 rooms.

“The numbers are looking strong. Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to is up over last year in rooms sold and in rate,” said Peggy Athans, executive director of the Calgary Hotel Association. “It comes down to, one, the economy is picking up and, two, all the collaboration that we’re doing with our partners with Tourism Calgary and really promoting the destination.”

Tourism to Calgary is projected to increase this year, with a 3.1 per cent rise in the number of overnight visits, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s countrywide travel markets outlook report, released Tuesday.

The report projects close to 3.9 million tourists will visit Calgary this year, up from about 3.7 million last year, thanks to increases in both pleasure and business travel. It cites sporting events such as the FINA Diving Grand Prix and a recovering provincial economy, which includes higher oil prices, as reasons behind the potential boost.

Direct air travel is also expanding from key international markets such as the U.S., China and Mexico.

About 79 per cent of visitors to Calgary come from elsewhere in Canada, while nearly seven per cent travel from the U.S. and 14 per cent from overseas.

Europe has been a key focus over the past two years when it comes to targeting potential new tourists, according to Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary.

She said the organization works closely with established tour operators from other countries.

“We think as far as some of the marketing we’ve been doing, we always look at where there’s direct air access. We’ve been going into those markets and doing a lot of work around ensuring that we’re there and we’re present and promoting the city,” Ady said.

“We always really do heavily sell this idea of a good city, great culinary. It’s located near not just Banff, but also near the hoodoos and all the other types of pieces that we have.”

Ady said that as the province has come out of a recession, Tourism Calgary has observed a steady incline in the number of hotel rooms sold, with 13 consecutive months of growth.

“We used to do three big campaigns a year. Now we’re on 365 a year,” she said. “I think Calgary is doing its share and punching above its weight.”

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