Banff 'thriving' as tourism soars on weak loonie

While Calgary weathers the effects of a sluggish economy because of the sliding price of oil, things are booming out in Banff.

U.S. traffic up 20 per cent in Banff, 12 per cent across the board

Restaurants and stores are learning more about the needs and expectations of younger Chinese tourists. (CBC)

While Calgary weathers the effects of a sluggish economy because of the sliding price of oil, things are booming out in Banff.

Tourism is up all over Banff National Park this summer, says Leslie Bruce, Banff Lake Louise Tourism president.

Leslie Bruce, head of Banff Lake Louise Tourism, says it's shaping up to be a record year for tourism in the mountain towns. (CBC)

"We're now really experiencing numbers that have exceeded pre-recession numbers and so as a town we're thriving, main street is thriving, businesses are thriving and it's a very energetic place to be," she said.

Numbers tracked through the Visitor Information Centre show an overall increase of 12 per cent in July, with U.S. traffic up 20 per cent for the first half of 2015. 

The low Canadian dollar has boosted American travel to the area.

Tourism officials say they've noted a 20 per cent jump over last year in American visitors, counting licence plates from 41 states in July alone.

"It's a terrific bonus. I just bought my parents gifts this morning. It was very nice that the exchange rate was helpful for us," said U.S. tourist David Grad.

But the mountains are also proving to be a popular 'staycation' destination for Canadians — the flip-side of the coin of the weak loonie.

"In comparison to previous years we've had a lot more Canadian people travelling, from Ontario and western Canada, which is good to see. Wwe haven't seen that previous summers," said Bree Braden, manager of the Park Distillery Restaurant. 

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