May 15, 2019 | Mario Toneguzzi
Calgarians are saving money and finding hidden gems by vacationing close to homeI've lived in this fine city now for close to four decades, but what I've discovered is despite all that time, I still haven't experienced everything Calgary has to offer.
To change that, my goal in recent years has been to take in some of the top attractions in the city and surrounding areas that are popular among tourists who visit Calgary.
You could say I am part of the growing number of people who are spending more of their time away at home. Staycations have become a trend in the city and across Alberta, partially because of the economic challenges people have faced in recent years, but also because it's just plain smart to get to know your city a little better and discover the hidden gems here.
Lindsay Gallant, manager of earned media with Tourism Calgary, says one interesting thing about our tourism market is when visiting friends and relatives come to Calgary, Calgarians also become tourists in a sense, through their role as hosts.
Here's some interesting data supplied by Gallant:
- 76 per cent of visitors to Calgary are travellers from the region (within an eight-hour driving radius), and this segment represents 50 per cent
of tourism spending here
- Out of the 76 per cent noted above, 57 per cent are visiting friends and relatives (VFR)
- The VFR segment represents 46 per cent of visits to Calgary, or
1.6 million visitors per year
- The VFR market spends $418 million annually, while visiting national, provincial or nature parks (22.2 per cent); shopping (14.9 per cent); visiting historic sites (8.6 per cent); and participating in outdoor activities (29.7 per cent) and cultural activities (17.5 per cent)
- VFR come from Canada (86.7 per cent), Europe (5.7 per cent), the Asia Pacific region (3.5 per cent) and the U.S. (3.1 per cent)
Staycationers looking for inspiration can check out Tourism Calgary's website at www.visitcalgary.com.
"Our website is extremely robust when it comes to information about what's happening in our own city," said Gallant.
"I think a lot of the time, people think that we're just a resource for tourists, but at the same time, we have probably the most extensive calendar of events in the city on our website."