Tourism holds steady despite cool, wet summer

Matt Gardner
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Evidence suggests that area tourism has held steady or even increased despite a relatively cool, rainy summer.

Prince Albert Daily Herald

While official statistics will not be available until the end of the month, Prince Albert Tourism executive director Jayne Remenda said that traffic at the visitor centre appeared at least as busy as previous years, while final numbers may show a slight increase.

“Urban visitors -- like people coming actually to the city -- it’s not really affected by the weather because they’re typically coming here for events, visiting friends and family,” Remenda said.

One of the major exceptions are outdoor sporting events, which can be affected by heavy rains that force cancellation.

Still, Remenda noted, “We haven’t seen any of that yet this year.”

The number one travel destination in the area, particularly for international (and specifically European) travellers remains Waskesiu.

Parks Canada external relations manager Pat Dunn said that Prince Albert National Park has seen a rise in visitors this season.

“We are actually a little bit up for visitors at the entrance gates from last year and from the year before,” Dunn said. “So we’re happy about that.”

Visitor numbers at the park are tracked at the gates based on the number of vehicles coming in, as well as use of the campgrounds. Staff members typically use a formula based on how many people are in a vehicle to estimate the total number of visitors.

Regarding the increased visitation numbers, Remenda pointed to the role of currency values both in Canada and abroad.

“The Canadian dollar’s still fairly high, but I think some of the countries that folks are coming from, their currencies (have) stabilized a little bit,” she said.

At the same time, Remenda added, “We still aren’t seeing the United States travellers at the levels that we used to see … back in 2005 and previous, because our dollar is high and it is expensive for them to come here.”

Meanwhile, Dunn noted that many of the visitors at P.A. National Park camp out in trailers, cottages or cabins, which are less affected by poor weather conditions than pup tents.

Urban visitors -- like people coming actually to the city -- it’s not really affected by the weather because they’re typically coming here for events, visiting friends and family. Jayne Remenda

“It is actually very competitive to get a campsite in Prince Albert National Park,” she added. “So I think if people are camping at, especially, Beaver Glen and Red Deer campgrounds and they get a campsite, they generally will come and use it.”

While noting that the situation varies from year to year, Dunn acknowledged that cool weather can sometimes affect travel plans.

“They may decide just to come up for the day or they may decide not to come -- or they may come anyway and find other things to do,” she said.

“There are lots of things to do in the park even if the weather is a little bit cool or a little bit damp, so we’re not always aware of all the factors that are affecting visitation.

“Our numbers are up by about 5,000 visitors from this time last year, and that’s a good thing. So we’re happy for that and hope other people will not be too deterred by the cooler weather and still come and visit us.”

From a city standpoint, Remenda said that lake traffic had been fairly steady, given that many of the tourists who stop by the Visitors Centre are on their way to the lakeland.

One change this year appears to be an extension of weekend traffic. Previously traffic was heaviest on Friday afternoon and evening, whereas this summer P.A. Tourism staff members have seen more visitors coming in on Thursday afternoon.

The rest of summer promises an upsurge in visitors with a number of prominent athletic events, starting with a Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame event this weekend.

Subsequently, high numbers of visitors are expected for the Saskatchewan Amateur Men’s Golf Championship this week and the Canadian Native Fastball Championship over the August long weekend.

The latter event is expected to attract anywhere from 6,000 and 10,000 visitors to the city.

Organizations: Prince Albert Tourism, Parks Canada, Visitors Centre Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame

Geographic location: Prince Albert National Park, Canada, United States P.A. National Park Red Deer

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