Soaring gas prices may keep people out of their cars and RVs this summer, slowing a tourism resurgence in Canada.
The Calgary Herald reported that with analysts warning prices could remain high for months, many in the tourism industry are watching for the fallout of expensive fuel.
“It will have some impact,” said Randy Williams, CEO of Tourism Calgary, noting that gas isn’t the largest percentage of a vacation’s cost. “But it’s definitely a drag on the tourism economy because it does increase the cost of travel.”
Tourism Calgary had earlier reduced its revenue growth projection for this year to 3% from 4%, citing fuel prices, the strong Canadian dollar and the disaster in Japan.
Those relying on tourists to boost summer sales hope that the reluctance to travel distance will be offset by people vacationing close to home.
Leanna Mohan, marketing coordinator with the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, said during the last spike in gas prices a couple of years ago the number of local visitors jumped.
Melissa Smith, who works at the Bow River’s Edge RV park in Cochrane, predicts some travelers from farther away might stay home this year.
“It’s a little bit of a concern,” she said. “But it might encourage people to stay closer to home, stay here rather than go to the Okanagan. If anything we’ll get more people from Calgary come out to camp, rather than drive a longer distance away.”
Smith added that caravans from the U.S. that often come up from Stampede might stay parked if the gas price remains high.
Banff Lake Louise Tourism’s Kurt Schroeder said that a cool, wet summer would have a bigger impact than gas prices.
“I worry more about bad weather,” Schroeder, the director of marketing and communications, said, adding that most guests coming from longer distances have already booked their trips.
He also hopes people, with the aim of driving less, may not “pass as far through the province” and linger in the Banff area.