Varcoe: It's 'make-or-break time' for Alberta tourism operators


Heading into the traditionally hectic summer period, Alberta tourism operators are uncertain what the next four months will bring — or if they will have a peak season at all.

As the pandemic drags on and public health restrictions remain in place, industry officials are waiting for the Kenney government to roll out a blueprint to lift the measures, as Saskatchewan and British Columbia have done.

Alberta’s plan is expected to be released Wednesday with an announcement from Premier Jason Kenney about the province’s strategy for easing restrictions and “opening for summer,” according to a media advisory.

For operators in Alberta’s tourism industry, the specifics will be crucial.

“The coming 12 weeks for the entire tourism sector are critical. This is a make-or-break time of year for many tourism operators,” Alisha Reynolds, vice-president of the Sandman Hotel Group, which operates 13 hotels across Alberta, said Tuesday.

“It’s essential we have a path forward to reopening the economy.”

The new provincial strategy arrives at a key period for the tourism sector, which has faced international travel restrictions since last year, as well as health measures introduced this spring to stop the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reynolds, who is also board chair of the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta, said uncertainty has been a critical issue facing business operators this year.