The Alberta Floods’ Impact on B.C. Tourism

Shuswap tourism | BCBusiness
Flooding in Alberta has resulted in a decline in tourist traffic in B.C.’s interior, notably in the Shuswap Lake region.

B.C.’s close ties with Alberta cause a decline in tourism during floods

The tourism industry in B.C.’s interior regions took a hit during the aftermath of the flooding in southern Alberta. Shuswap Tourism’s Robyn Cyr says they saw a decline in traffic throughout the area, especially around the Canada Day long weekend. During that time, Cyr says accommodation numbers were down about 15 to 20 per cent, although numbers have started to pick up again over the last week because people are travelling again.

“The tourism industry here has very close ties to Alberta,” Cyr says. “It is probably our strongest market.” According to Cyr, Shuswap’s tourism market is made up of about 40 to 50 per cent Albertans, 25 per cent British Columbians and visitors from other parts of Canada, and another 25 per cent are tourists from outside the country. She adds that the flooding didn’t just have an impact on the number of visitors to the Shuswap area, but also on the residents. “A lot of the residents in our community are from Calgary and surrounding areas in Alberta, so it definitely affected them as well,” she adds.

Shuswap’s tourism industry has seen dips before, Cyr says, recalling the flood near the area last June. “We had a tough year; it definitely had a huge impact—July of last year was not a good month.” Despite rough patches, Cyr says they always seem to bounce back. “The tourism industry is pretty resilient. Out of all the economic drivers in the province, the tourism industry is pretty quick to respond to the needs of the visitors that come into our communities.”

Cyr says the Podollan Inn, located in Salmon Arm, was down about 23 per cent at the time of the flooding, while the Prestige Harbourfront Resort, also located in Salmon Arm, was down about 10 per cent. Melanie Tighe-Lovsin, director of sales and marketing for the Podollan Inn, says they received cancellations early after the flood hit. “We received a few inquiries from tour companies, one as far as California, who had to make last-minute changes to their itineraries because of the highway closure,” she says. “They had a tour bus travelling from Vancouver to Calgary and had to find accommodations for their group instead of heading to Calgary.”

Tighe-Lovsin says they are back on track now and reservations for the rest of the summer are equivalent to last year. “We are expecting a good tourism summer,” she says.

Tourism Kelowna’s Catherine Frechette says that although B.C. is the primary market for tourism in Kelowna, Alberta comes in second, making up about 20 per cent of the area’s visitors. She says they experienced cancellations during the time of the flooding but it is still too early on in the summer to identify the full ramifications it has had on Kelowna’s accommodations.