indicatorThe Owl

Waiting it out: The pandemic and the tourism sector

Over 100,000 travellers from the U.S. and other parts of the world visited Alberta in March 2019 compared to only 3,065 in March 2021

By Rob Roach, ATB Financial 11 June 2021 1 min read

Between border closures, other public health measures and hesitancy on the part of some potential travellers, the tourism sector* has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

This is illustrated by the chart below, which shows the dramatic drop in international flights and visitors to Canada that took place last spring as well as the ongoing dampening effects of the pandemic.

As of March 2021, the number of travellers to Canada from the U.S. and other countries was down by 94% compared to the same month in 2019.

Flights between Canada and the U.S. were down by 87% over the same period while flights to and from Canada and countries other than the U.S. were off by 82%.

In March 2019, over 100,000 travellers from the U.S. and other parts of the world visited Alberta. Only 3,065 did so in March 2021.

The tourism sector relies on Canadian as well as international customers, but domestic travel is also down. Either way, the collapse of international travel has had—and continues to have—a devastating impact on many businesses.

The situation will improve as the pandemic recedes and workarounds such as “vaccine passports” are implemented, but the virus is still in play and is actually getting worse in some parts of the world. As a result, it is not clear just how long it will take for tourism activity to fully bounce back.

During this anxious time for the tourism sector, we can help offset at least some of the losses by supporting our local tourism businesses as much as we can.

*The tourism sector includes a broad range of businesses such as hotels, conference centres, tourist sites, restaurants, travel agencies, airlines, event planners, souvenir manufacturers, etc.

Answer to the previous trivia question: Alberta’s population passed the four million mark in 2014. As of 2020, it was 4.4 million.

Today’s trivia question: The inaugural Calgary Stampede was held in 1912. According to Travel Alberta, in what year did the tradition of the free pancake breakfast start?

As of March 2021, the number of travellers to Canada from the U.S. and other countries was down by 94% compared to the same month in 2019

As of March 2021, the number of travellers to Canada from the U.S. and other countries was down by 94% compared to the same month in 2019


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