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Despite high tourism, Banff hopes to court more shoulder-season visitors

Banff National Park saw a record high number of tourists come through the gates last year, but the local tourism agency is hoping to lure in even more visitors — especially during the off season.
Banff is hoping to attract more tourists during the shoulder season. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Banff National Park saw a record high number of tourists come through the gates last year, but the local tourism agency is hoping to lure in even more visitors — especially during the off season.

Stan Seaforth is the promotions manager at the Rose and Crown pub in Banff. He said he hopes the high traffic the park saw over the winter just keeps coming. 

"I think of course, the conditions the ski hill has had over the year as well is bringing out a lot of people later in the season. The more people we have coming through, the more people will want to see what all the fuss is about," Seaforth said.

Stan Seaforth, pictured centre serving customers at the Rose and Crown, said he thinks the initiative to bring in more tourists during the off season is a great idea. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Banff Lake Louise Tourism president Leslie Bruce said her organization is creating partnerships with other regions of Canada, and across the globe, including the U.S., Mexico and China.

"Our job is really to try and juice up that October through until the end of April time period," Bruce said.

"For example, the beginning of October is a really important holiday in China so it's a prime opportunity to invite that group of travellers to come experience the park."

Bruce said during the winter season, some hotels are only half occupied. Her organization is hoping its new strategy will result in boosting year-round hotel stays to 72 per cent. 

Leslie Bruce, president and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism, said the organization's mandate for at least a decade as been to bring in more visitors during the shoulder seasons. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

"It's challenging for labour, it's challenging for businesses who want to stay healthy and vibrant," she said.

"That has a knock-on effect … If you can't give your staff hours, it's hard to get them to commit to staying. And if they can't commit to staying, it's hard to build a community."

Bruce said she thinks the park will always be an attractive option for tourists. 

"There's more desire and demand to find a place with space, with clean air, with mountains and trees," she said.

But it's all about finding the right draw for people.

"We're trying to be attractive to people that are interested in soft adventure, so snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, hiking, those kinds of initiatives and things that people might not first think of when they think of the park."

With files from Terri Trembath

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