You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

Skip to main content
Text Size:

As we approach what’s sure to be a busy summer for Alberta’s tourism industry, we’re pleased to share some very good news about the industry’s pandemic recovery.

According to the latest Tourism Economics baseline forecast, Alberta’s tourism expenditures are expected to return to $10 billion in 2023, a year earlier than previously forecasted.

“We couldn’t have reached this milestone without the commitment of our tenacious and determined entrepreneurs. But we still have a long way to go to ensure all Albertans, in all corners of the province, enjoy the benefits of a thriving visitor economy.” David Goldstein, CEO, Travel Alberta.

After Alberta’s tourism expenditures reached a significant low in 2020 ($4.5B) due to the pandemic, the province has slowly recovered and is set to steadily grow past pre-pandemic numbers. This is driven largely by a significant increase in domestic travel.

Key findings

  • Total tourism spending in Alberta is on pace to return to 2019 levels in 2023. 
    • Domestic: Spending by Albertans already recovered in 2022 and spending from the rest of Canada is expected to exceed 2019 levels this year.
    • International: Spend from the U.S. and overseas is likely to recover in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
  • After declining by 55% in 2020, tourism expenditures grew by approximately 40% in 2021 and then an estimated 47% in 2022. This number is likely to grow by another 8% in 2023.
  • In 2022, the Canadian Rockies and rural areas attracted a considerable share of the overall travel spending in Alberta. Travellers were drawn to open spaces and outdoor recreation. The recovery of tourism spending in the two major cities will take time as travel for business, conventions and events rebuild.
  • Prior to the pandemic, travellers spent the most on transportation while food and beverage was second and accommodation was third. However, in 2022, food and beverage spending led all categories. Transportation is forecasted to recover in 2025 with the return of international and business travellers and is expected to grow at 5.4% on an average annual basis from 2025 to 2035.

Our baseline forecast estimates that tourism will reach $17.6 billion by 2035, based on the current macroeconomic environment. But our destination management strategy is on track to enable the industry to outperform this forecast and double tourism revenue by 2035. 

Our assumptions

  • High travel demand will continue - Canada-wide, high inflation and increasing interest rates may impact consumers’ willingness to spend money on nonessential items. However, pent-up travel demand places Canada in a unique position that could benefit Albertan operators.
  • Return of business travel - With the pandemic well behind us, business travel has been gaining momentum. Business travel is anticipated to return to its pre-pandemic levels by next year.
  • A weak Canadian dollar will encourage domestic travel - As the Loonie weakens, there will be greater interest by Canadian travellers to stay within the country. We have an opportunity to invite Canadians to experience Alberta’s many unique destinations and attractions across the province, while encouraging more Americans and overseas travellers to visit.

Our partnership with regional destination management/marketing organizations (DMOs) ensures we’re well-positioned to retain domestic visitors, while attracting valuable international travellers from further afield.

How we got here

To reach this conclusion, Tourism Economics provided three scenarios forecasting Alberta’s tourism expenditures to 2035: upside, baseline, and downside. The baseline scenario closely matches current consensus on industry expectations of a mild recession through the first half of 2023, therefore we used this to establish the above assumptions.

To see the details of these three scenarios, visit Tourism Spend Forecasts.

Full report

You may also be interested in