Low dollar to draw more visitors to Calgary, conference board projects

Visits to Calgary should be up this year as the low value of the Canadian dollar is keeping Canadians at home and attracting more international travellers, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

More international visitors expected to travel to Alberta's largest city

The Peace Bridge crossing over the Bow River to downtown Calgary. (Getty Images)

Calgary could see a healthy increase in international visitors this year.

A forecast from the Conference Board of Canada says the number of overnight visits to Calgary by Americans will increase by 3.6 per cent to 484,000 people. 

Overseas travellers are also expected to increase by 3.9 per cent to 410,000 visitors.  

However, the total number of overnight visits to Calgary will only grow by 1.1 per cent, due to a slower increase in the domestic market, which is a much larger piece of the tourism pie.

The conference board says one reason for the relatively modest increase in the total number of visits is that business travel to Calgary is down due to the sluggish economy.

Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary, says Calgary's hospitality industry is highly dependent on business travel. 

"In Calgary 25 per cent of all our travellers are business travellers, which is a very high percentage compared to most cities," she said. "And so when business falls back as much as it has in Calgary, it does impact us."

The forecast singles out some events that are likely to influence visitor numbers to Calgary, including the Juno Awards held in April and the opening of the National Music Centre in July, both of which are expected to contribute to the city's higher visitor numbers this year. 

Alberta's mountain resort towns of Canmore, Banff and Jasper have already experienced a significant increase in the number of international tourist visits this year.

The board says international visits across Canada will increase by more than five per cent, with the relatively low value of the Canadian dollar helping attract international tourists.