The tourism industry in Calgary is doing quite well. Well enough in fact to be number one in visitor spending. The autumn installment of the 2012 Travel Markets Outlook report, put out by the Conference Board of Canada was just released this past Thursday. In it Calgary took the top spot of nine metro areas surveyed for visitor spending.
Visitors to Calgary during this past year spent $1.4 billion on hotels, restaurants, attractions, shopping and festivals. That is a 6.4 percent increase over the prior year. Calgary tied with Edmonton with the largest increase in the number of visitors hosted, both coming in with four percent.
The increase was aided by a number of factors, including the Calgary Stampede’s 100th anniversary. Over 1.4 million people attended that event alone. The new exhibit at the Calgary Zoo, the Penguin Plunge also meant record attendance, with 1.4 million visitors on the books and the year isn’t even over yet.
Calgary also played host to the World Junior Hockey Championships in the beginning of 2012, and was also crowned a Cultural Capital of Canada. The summer was a warm one, bringing in outdoor lovers from around the province.
Hotel occupancy rates continue to grow, as they have for the last 21 months. In 2012 occupancy was up four percent, with weekend occupancies increasing by 3.8 percent. That means that tourists were staying in town in almost as great a numbers as those in the business community.
For the coming year, the prediction from the Conference Board is more modest, with an expected increase in spending of around 2.3 percent. Calgary will probably benefit from the publicity garnered during 2012, helping to up those numbers.
Tourism Canada will increase its efforts to market the city internationally. That means including Brazil, India and China along with Europe and the United States. The latter two countries are still having economic difficulties so there is a need to go beyond the more traditional markets.