June 27, 2013 - 10:57 AM
After major flooding hit areas of southern Alberta a couple weeks ago, communities devastated by the disaster are now facing the task of rebuilding their lives and homes.
For some, summer vacations will not be going ahead as planned. Tourism Kelowna communications manager Catherine Frechette says the priorities have changed for many of the Albertans who contribute to Kelowna's visitor base.
"It goes without saying people who are facing flooding are focusing on the task at hand rather than focusing on summer travel plans," she says.
It's still too early to tell what the overall impact will be, but Frechette says there have been recent cancellations for the July long weekend.
"We are aware there have been cancellations of properties," she says of visits booked from Calgary residents who were planning to come for the weekend as well as some sports teams coming to Kelowna for events. Another factor is the portion of Highway 1 still closed to traffic.
This softening in Calgary visitors isn't yet a redflag for Kelowna's summer tourist season, and local hotels and businesses will by no means be twiddling their thumbs this weekend.
"They're still expecting to be very busy or sold out over the long weekend," she says.
Manteo Resort sales manager Dana Crichton says initially they saw a few cancellations but the beautiful weekend weather forecast is helping to fill the gap.
"We are pretty much sold out, there's a few rooms left for Sunday night," Crichton says.
Manteo's clientele includes "anyone within the rubber tire market," meaning people who can drive to Kelowna, she says. The bulk of their guests are coming from Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, Calgary and Edmonton, as well as a fairly steady business clientele.
In addition to the Calgary and Edmonton markets, Kelowna gets visitors from smaller areas throughout B.C. and Alberta, as well as a growing market in Ontario thanks to daily flights to YLW.
But Frechette says the areas they're watching closely in the coming weeks are the leisure travellers, families on summer vacation and sports-related travel.
Canada Day long weekend is typically a busy time for sporting tournaments. Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel and Suites general manager Rosemary Paterson says there's a big soccer tournament coming up and they've already had one team from Calgary cancel their reservation. Paterson expects most of the city's hotels are likely seeing the same pattern.
"We are affected hugely by the Calgary market," she says, but is confident last minute bookings will make up for the loss.
While the Calgary market is an important one, there's a bigger picture to consider. Frechette says it isn't just a market – it's about people.
"As much as we're concerned about the situation... our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected."
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013