"Uplifting to see them come back” - Businesses, locals celebrate return of tourist season

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It’s tourism season at Mile Zero, and compared to this time last year, things have exploded.

After two years of having to stay home, people are thrilled to be getting back on the road.

“They come in, they’re super excited, they’re ready to stretch their legs and see all the historic sites in Dawson Creek,” says Emily Morris from Tourism Dawson Creek.

According to Statistics Canada, tourism spending was up by $15 billion by the end of last year. And the upward trend is only continuing this year.

Local business owners, like Patricia Zerr, couldn’t be happier.

“We’ve had lots of tourism traffic,” says Zerr, who owns Country Lane Gifts. “It is so nice to see the people coming into the downtown core, stopping in the little businesses, asking where they can have coffee, where they can get a good local lunch.”

As usual, there are a lot of Americans making their way up the Alaska Highway. Europeans too, from places like Germany, Switzerland, and the UK.

Some have been planning these trips for a long time, others have been more spontaneous.

“We wanted to do the Silk Road, over to the East from Europe,” says Marco, who’s visiting from Switzerland with his family. “But after the war, we had to change plans.”

And they’re in luck, because it’s the 80th anniversary of the Alaska Highway. To celebrate, the Visitor Centre is ready to point them towards everything the region has to offer.

“Lots of the Americans when they’re coming up – they want to know about all the hot spots,” says Morris. “So, Liard Hot Springs, Muncho Lake, Watson Lake.”

But mostly they’re excited because they’re just ready to travel like they used to. Locals and tourists alike are in a great mood at getting back to normalcy.

“It’s been really uplifting to see them come back into the community” says Zerr.

“We have the opportunity to travel,” says Carol, from Saskatoon. “And we feel grateful about being able to have such a beautiful country to travel in.”